Gender Diverse Housing at Odyssey Teen Camp

Gender diverse campers in front of their cabins

Our biggest question

One of the biggest questions we get all year is how we assign campers to their cabins at OTC.  Unlike many other camps that decide to house based on the binary genders of “boys” and “girls,” we at OTC have chosen a different approach. We have listened to counselors and campers over the years to develop a housing system that works for everyone.

Gender diverse campers in front of their cabins

The evolution of OTC’s housing

As a staff member, I have witnessed the evolution of OTC’s housing and gender policies personally. When I first started working at OTC, I identified as a female. I ended up being a counselor for mostly all-girl cabins and pods. As my identity changed over the years, so did our housing policies. I now identify as trans/non-binary.

When I began housing with more trans and gender-fluid campers, I noticed that by just being me, I was able to provide a space for our campers to do the same. Representation matters, and being near counselors with similar identities can be empowering and impactful to campers.

Cabin assignment and gender

Our campers and counselors identify across the gender spectrum. During our application process, we let campers tell us how they identify and which gender identities they feel comfortable living with. These genders can include, but are not limited to, “boy,” “girl,” “non-binary,” “trans-girl,” “trans-boy,” “genderqueer,” and “gender fluid.” There may end up being cabins that have more “boys” or “girls” in them, depending on the make-up of campers that come to camp each session.  But there is always room for fluidity.

Gender diverse campers in front of their cabins

Pairing teens with similar preferences

We know how important gender is to OTC campers, but there is so much more to a teenager than just their gender. In addition to questions about gender on the housing form, we also ask questions about sleep and living habits. This includes questions like, “How late or early do you like to go to bed?” and “How clean/messy do you like to keep your space?”  We find that matching teens (always in the same age group) with similar habits contributes to a more content and comfortable time at camp.

A  welcoming landing pad

Because OTC’s values inherently foster fluidity and acceptance, I have always felt welcome and comfortable presenting the way I do. I always knew there was a place for me. We want to make sure that our campers feel that way, too, especially in the place where they lay their heads every night. Even though our cabins are where we spend the least time, they can often feel like our personal landing pads for the day.  And for a community that values compassion, kindness, and acceptance – what is more important than that?

Teens have a BBQ outside their cabins

Continuing to play and learn with our campers

As a former camper, counselor, and pod leader, I have loved seeing the evolution of how we at OTC have imagined and played with the ever-evolving question of housing.  The system we have now seems to yield the most positive results yet, and we are excited to keep learning and supporting our campers in the best ways possible.

What campers say about housing at OTC

Adam Simon, Odyssey Teen Camp Director

Adam Simon

I'm Adam Simon. I started teen camp eighteen years ago with the vision of creating a space where teenagers would know they are safe from bullying or negative judgments and would feel free to show who they really are and to become their best selves. Let's connect, discuss, and engage...
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Find Out About Odyssey Teen Camp

A Non-Profit Overnight Summer Camp For Teens Ages 13-18
Located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.