Saskatchewan

Sask. gender diverse summer camp gets funding boost

Camp Caterpillar, a summer camp for gender diverse children, has received a funding boost.

$10K grant will help send kids to Camp Caterpillar

Fran Forsberg is a mother to gender diverse children and said desired a safe, accepting summer camp for her kids. (CBC)

When school's out for the summer, some kids dream of spending time the summer days away at camp. 

Fran Forsberg's children were no different. They wanted to go to camp, but she didn't know how they would be received. 

"I didn't feel comfortable sending my kids because I didn't know for sure if they would be accepted for who they are if they were going to be subject to bullying or judgment from counsellors," she said.

"I needed a place where I knew my children could go and just be children and be who they are."

Forsberg's children are gender diverse. She started Camp Caterpillar in 2015 so they didn't have to sit out. 

The camp is like a typical summer camp except it's made for gender diverse children and allies aged 7 to 14, she said.

The cabins are assigned by age rather than gender and counsellors undergo LGBT education prior to the camp.  

The camp, entering its fourth year, was been granted a boost of $10,000 from Lush Cosmetics.

The money will be used to assist kids in coming to camp, Forsberg said, adding there are many parents of gender diverse children who struggle financially.

"It's a lot of single parent families, let's just say that, and they can't afford to send the kids to camp. It's too expensive."

The money is also slated for a weekly activity for gender non-conforming children in Saskatoon and Regina.

Forsberg said she saw the importance of a safe space years ago when she attended a seminar in Montreal that had a youth component.

She said there were dozens of other gender diverse children there, which was an uplifting and relaxing experience for the kids.

"I saw their shoulders go down," she said. "It normalized everything for them because they'd been told by society that they're not normal — and they are."

This year's camp runs July 30 to Aug. 2 at Candle Lake's Camp Tapawingo. and costs $275. Forsberg said there are already 20 kids signed up, but there's room for more.