Chest Binders And Sleeping Bags: Summer Camps For Transgender Kids As Young As 4 The New Craze

A group of multi-ethnic elementary students stand around a colorful gay pride poster.
FatCamera via Getty Images

From New Hampshire to California, overnight summer camps for transgender children as young as 4 are cropping up all over the United States, with many operating from secret locations where counselors reinforce campers’ gender dysphoria with voice training, makeup sessions, and other “trans-centered activities.”

At Camp Lilac, an overnight camp in an undisclosed location in Central Ohio, more than 100 kids as young as 12 are free to “socialize, grow, and express themselves in an environment without caregiver supervision,” according to its website. By “caregivers,” the site refers to parents, who may volunteer at the camp but cannot attend sessions with their own children. typical day at Camp Lilac includes “trans-centered activities”  such as makeup and hair tutorials and voice training.

“My son has to have his defenses up and maxed all day, everyday until he gets home,” said one parent quoted on Camp Lilac’s site. “At camp, he’s just who he is! Unapologetically! Running around in his [chest] binder and not having to explain himself.”

Camp Mulberry, located in Southern California, is a free camp for transgender children as young as 6, according to its website

“Our volunteer counselors are fully vetted and trained transgender/gender diverse adults who will serve as mentors for our youth,” the site states.

Camp Mulberry

Several camps do not disclose their locations to the public out of what they characterize as security concerns.

The Trans Youth Equality Foundation (TYEF) hosts a youth camp for “transgender and non-binary” children in a “confidential location in New England” where children as young as 7 years old may attend. The organization also provides free chest binders for girls under 18 who identify as boys. TYEF is promoted on the Maine Department of Education’s website.

Camp Indigo, with locations in Oakland, California, and Boulder, Colorado, allows trans and “gender diverse” kids as young as 4 years old to enjoy a ‘normal’ summer day camp experience.” Co-founder Andrew Kramer told The Daily Wire that about 150 kids per week attend the Oakland location and more than 100 per week — from 18 states — attend the Boulder camp.

“This is a camp for trans youth, but it’s not a camp about being trans,” Kramer told The Daily Wire. He said although the camp is specifically for children who identify as transgender or non-binary, only campers over age 12 take part in activities such as “exploration of trans history and trans-focused sex education.”

Camp Indigo Point, St. Louis

The camp’s website specifically states that children who identify as gay are not welcome.

“Camp Indigo is a camp for trans and non-binary youth,” the site notes. “We are not an ‘LGBTQ camp.’”

Camp Kaleidoscope is billed as “Burbank’s First LGBTQIA+ Summer Camp.”

Camp Kaleidoscope is billed as “Burbank’s First LGBTQIA+ Summer Camp.”

Other camps for transgender kids include:

  • Camp Outright, in Vermont, where “campers ages 13-17 find their people — and themselves — through play, self-expression, connection, community, and queer joy,” the camp’s website states.
  • Camp Indigo Point, near St. Louis, where counselors strive “to create a space where all campers’ and staffs’ identities and queer journeys are supported.” Camp Indigo Point is open to kids from second grade up.
  • Camp Aranu’tiq, a program of Harbor Camps in New Hampshire, is open to kids 8 and up who identify as transgender or non-binary. Harbor Camps received a $25,000 grant from the Tawani Foundation, which was founded by Jennifer Pritzker, a transgender billionaire and the cousin of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.
  • The Naming Project, an overnight summer camp in Deerwood, Minnesota, hosts teens from 13-18 “who are of any sexual orientation or gender identity or expression who are interested in discussing and understanding sexuality and gender in terms of their own spiritual journey.”
  • Unicorn Day Camp is one of two such camps in Pasadena, CA, and is a “summer program for transgender and gender nonbinary kids ages 6 to 9.” The other camp, Camp Epanouie “is a summer day camp for transgender and gender nonbinary youth on the transfeminine spectrum, ages 10 to 12.” 
  • Camp Kaleidoscope, in Burbank, CA, is run by the local YMCA’s Social Impact Center and hosts kids ages 12-17 daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The camp is billed as “Burbank’s First LGBTQIA+ Summer Camp.”

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