Monday, June 06, 2011

Camp Aranu'tiq Is Back

"Aranu'tiq, a great place to be!
I love this camp, I love this camp, 'cause I can be me!
It's easy to be yourself at camp, it's all in your hands
We can wear what we want, we can be who we are, everyone understands.
Canoeing, playing in the dirt,
Arts and crafts, mud on your shirt;
Frogs, toads, spiders too,
Aranu'tiq loves you......woooooo!
Aranu'tiq, a great place to be!
I love this camp, I love this camp, 'cause I can be me!"

I wrote last summer about a unique summer camp geared toward trans kids age 8-15 based in New England called Camp Aranu'tiq.   Its name comes from the indigenous Chugach people of Alaska and describes a person who was thought to embody both the male and female spirit. Aranu'tiq people were often revered in Chugach culture and thought to be very lucky because their existence transcended traditional gender boundaries.

The inaugural Camp Aranu'tiq 2010 session was tuition free and featured 41 campers and six staffers split into six cabins enjoying a traditional summer camp program.   Three housed the campers on the trans masculine end of the spectrum, three housed the campers on the trans feminine end of the spectrum.    

They have now shifted to a tuition based model in which it now costs $500 per camper for the week   Nick Teich, the founder, president and director of Camp Aranu'tiq explains why:

First and foremost, we want everyone to know that we will continue to accommodate families as best we can because the experience of Aranu'tiq is so important to a transgender or gender-variant child's life. We continue to operate, as we have from the very beginning, on the generosity of individuals and businesses. 100% of our funding comes from cash donations and in-kind donations, and we are completely volunteer-run. We want to ensure that Aranu'tiq not only exists in the future, but continues to thrive and is able to accommodate more campers each summer. In order to guarantee this, we now must charge families the modest tuition rate of $500. We will offer need-based financial support to any camper that would not otherwise be able to attend Aranu'tiq.

While I understand it isn't cheap to run a summer camp and the importance of having it as a place for our transkids, I'm always concerned when a program that starts out tuition free shifts to a fee based one.  The folks that don't have the cash to take advantage of what the formerly tuition free program has to offer now get frozen out of it.   But I'm cognizant of the fact that in order to expand the program to another 20 campers and keep it around for future generations of transkids the money to keep it going has to come from somewhere.

Here's hoping that the 2011 session of Camp Aranu'tiq is an even bigger success than last year.

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