*bump for the night crowd*
So, I haven't been active here in a little while because my life has been very intense lately with work and travel, but I wanted stop in to tell you guys about what was probably the most rewarding experience of my life. Last week I volunteered at a camp for trans and gender non-conforming youth.
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! You guys, I cannot even begin to describe to you what it was like.
Going in I was concerned that I was doing this out of some kind of wish fulfillment fantasy—you know, wishing I had had something like this when I was a kid—and I was worried that I would be hoping to get too much out of it for me and that it wouldn't live to my expectations. Once I got there, and started to interact with the campers, it was all about the kids and it was more amazing that I could have ever imagined. I've had my time, I made my transition and all things considered, I'm doing pretty well. I like my life and it wasn't hard to stuff aside.
If you looked at this camp from the outside, you'd really never know that it was a camp for trans kids. I worked at summer camps when I was in my 20s and this camp had the same camp personalities and same camp dramas that you find in any camp. I kept forgetting that it these were trans kids. And that was the beauty of camp, it was so very normal. I felt very normal and for one week out of their lives, these kids got to feel normal too.
Mostly, I got my ass kicked at Uno by nine year-olds and got totally schooled by 10-12 year-olds at this weird version of dodge ball the kids love to play. I was brought in as a special guest. Initially, I was only supposed to come in, teach a couple of classes and leave the next day, but the kids and councilors and staff kept convincing me to stay one more hour until I ended up staying an entire extra day, even though it meant that I wouldn't have any days off before going back to work. I love my days off. That's how amazing the experience was.
Because these kids are transitioning so young, they aren't going to have to deal with a lot of the challenges I did. Their bodies are going to develop more or less normally for their target gender—they're only going to have one puberty. It was easy for me to assume that they were going to have more or less normal lives, until the last day I was there.
On the second to last day of camp, some of the older kids got the chance to talk about what camp meant to them. They talked about being, bullied in school, about feeling alone, of being ashamed of being transgender and how camp made them feel okay about themselves. These were beautiful, confident kids who you would assume would be popular at school because they were so popular at camp talking about how insecure they were before camp. A lot of them could barely get through what they were saying with out breaking down.
I'm not going to lie, when everybody sung the camp song at the end of it, I completely lost it.
Normally, I wouldn't use Groupthink to ask for donations to a pet cause, but if you can spare some extra cash, please consider giving to the camp. Even though the entire camp is run by volunteers and they try to keep the costs down as much as possible, there are still a lot of kids that can't afford to come and honestly, this is an experience that every trans kid deserves.
The donation page is here.