THE KIDS OF CAMP I AM
Camp I Am was a weekend summer camp for gender-creative children and their families, active from 2007-2016. In 2008 I began offering my services as the camp documentarian of Camp I Am so that the children would have several images to turn to throughout the year as memories of this affirming place, where their parents and siblings not only celebrated them but learned to advocate for them when returning to the less protective spaces in their everyday lives.
I am both an artist and a parent of a former Camp I Am participant. Through relationships forged at camp, I am actively reaching beyond the confines of the original camp, and taking the time to interview the participants, now young adults, about the role that this celebratory place played in shaping their identities on the journey to becoming who they are today.
After more than a decade of service to its community, Camp I Am was phased out, its purpose now successfully decentralized and far-reaching. Through this ongoing project, I am continuing dialogue about how non-judgmental environments can provide life-changing support, paving a road free of judgment, with wide-ranging gender expressions in life. My goal is to help normalize support for youth in similar communities, in the national consciousness, and in the worldwide consciousness.
Before the camp was discontinued, the population had become more diverse, both ethnically, and in terms of where participants landed on the gender spectrum. In progressing with this series, I would like to illustrate more accurately the full spectrum of campers who attended Camp I Am. Today I am reconnecting with the twenty or more campers whose early images speak to something beyond the existing portraits of female transgender and gay male adult identities, but also to trans men and non-binary campers.