Central Camp campers stay in bunk beds in a large, rustic, one-room cabin with approximately ten new friends and one cabin counselor. Six cabins form a unit. Community restroom facilities, located within each unit, are shared spaces that contain individual shower stalls and toilet stalls, as well as sinks and mirrors. Camp Bernstein (Junior Camp) cabins are large, rustic one-room cabins that have single-user bathrooms within the cabin.
Cabins are assigned by grade level, major, and gender, based on the housing preference selected on your application. Single-gender units (boys or girls) are open to all campers who identify as that gender, regardless of gender assigned at birth. Gender-inclusive housing is available for any individuals, regardless of gender identity, who feel more comfortable in a gender inclusive space. Notification of your specific cabin and unit assignment will be sent with final instructions just prior to arrival.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, right? Most campers come to camp not knowing others in their cabin. But by the time they leave camp, they have a big batch of new friends. We highly recommend jumping in with both feet and arriving at camp ready to grow your friend circle!
Those wishing to request a cabin mate may do so during the application process. Campers who wish to be housed together must attend with the same major, apply to camp within the same timeframe, and request each other as cabin mates. Cabin mate applications must be submitted within 72 hours of each other in order to be considered. An attempt will be made to house students together but requests are not guaranteed. You may request only one cabin mate. Notification of your housing assignment will be sent with final instructions prior to camp.
Overview of Gender-Inclusive Housing Practices
Traditionally, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp has housed campers in two distinct sides of camp, designated either boys’ side (Camp Sousa) or girls’ side (Camp Gershwin). Through the years, this housing arrangement has generally been satisfactory. Today, it no longer serves the needs of a portion of our student population. While binary options are sufficient for the majority of participants, a small percentage of campers now identify as non-binary or gender fluid. It has always been our objective as an organization to provide a space for all participants to feel accepted, supported, and safe. Providing gender-inclusive housing is an important part of this objective.
We have designated a third housing option for campers who would prefer a gender-inclusive environment or who do not identify with either of the traditional binary genders of female and male. Gender inclusive housing is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. On the application, students may indicate their housing section. Housing assignments will be provided just prior to the camp session.
We view this expansion of housing options as an important step intended to create an environment in which all campers feel safe, affirmed, and validated at camp, and as part of our broader efforts toward inclusion. We also recognize that this new policy may make some parents, guardians, and campers uncomfortable and that you may have questions about why we are doing this and how this policy will be implemented. Below, please find a few frequently asked questions. Please feel free to contact Student Services with any additional questions or concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Prepare your camper for meeting new people and living in a community with people who come from different backgrounds or hold different beliefs. Talk to your camper about respecting others, including respecting differences. Discuss the importance of getting to know people beyond a first impression. To learn more specifically about supporting gender-diverse students, review this basic information from the US Department of Education: Supporting Transgender Youth Fact Sheet. If you or your camper would like to learn more about gender diversity, visit https://genderspectrum.org/
Staff members are thoroughly vetted and background checked, and receive specific training regarding safety, supervision, and community expectations. A cabin counselor lives in every camper cabin.
On the first night of camp, campers participate in cabin orientation, which includes discussion of individual privacy, boundaries, and respect for one another. All campers sign a pledge and commit to specific cabin rules that center on respect and community within the cabin.
Areas within the cabin and housing unit are defined as single-occupancy spaces, such as bathroom stalls, shower stalls, and bunks. Campers find a variety of ways to change privately: rigging up a towel between bunks, changing under their covers, using a stall in the bathhouse, etc. Staff can help campers find a more private option if needed.
Staff and faculty may choose to share their pronouns during introductions. We offer campers an opportunity to share if they wish, but do not require it. Visit www.mypronouns.org for more information on personal pronouns.
Inclusion topics are discussed with counselors beginning in the interview and continuing into training. Counselors participate in extensive in-person training and orientation before campers arrive, where they learn about camp policies and expectations, terminology and definitions around gender diversity and inclusion, and have opportunities to practice leading camper orientation sessions and handling sensitive conversations with campers.