Widjiwagan and YMCA of the North Camps hope to provide a safe space for all of our campers to explore their identities and discover their life path. We value identity exploration as an integral part of adolescent development. We welcome all participants into our programming including transgender, gender non-conforming, gender non-binary, and other gender expansive campers.

In striving to create a welcoming community for all campers, YMCA Camps uphold the Nondiscrimination Statement of the YMCA of the North. This statement includes gender identity and sexual orientation. As an institution, we do not tolerate discrimination and bullying of campers based on their gender identity or their perceived gender identity.

Gender and Trail Groups

Widjiwagan offers all gender and single gender session options at most levels of our programming. We invite campers who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming to group themselves where they feel most comfortable.

  • Single gender (female and male) sessions organize campers into trail groups according to the female/male gender binary.
  • All gender sessions are open to all interested campers. Learn more about our all gender sessions below.

All Gender Sessions

Widjiwagan’s all gender trips offer an alternative to single gender trips for campers who are interested in a wilderness tripping experience that is not structured around gender.

We hope that all gender trips will remove barriers to participation for campers who identify as Trans, Gender Non-conforming and Queer. However, all gender trips are open to everyone and are not intended exclusively as an affinity space.

Judging camper readiness for an All-Gender session 

  • Campers who register for all gender trips should be prepared to be open and affirming of all group members regardless of gender identity.
  • Campers who register for all gender session should be open to conversations about differences in identity. Immersive experiences like a wilderness trips tend to initiate these types of conversations organically within diverse groups.
  • Wilderness trips can be a great space to build connections across difference. However, some campers may feel uncomfortable or simply be unable to express themselves fully in the presence of people of other genders based on their developmental stage. These campers should consider single gender trips.
  • Community building within a group is an important component of a Widjiwagan experience. As a result, our Code of Community prohibits exclusive relationships - romantic or otherwise - in all of our programming. Campers who have struggled to maintain appropriate boundaries with peers of other genders in other areas of their lives should opt for single gender trips.
  • Conversations about gender and other concepts related to identity tend to be very abstract. Single gender trips may be a better fit for campers who generally struggle with understanding abstract concepts.

Groups and Staffing

  • Widjiwagan all gender trips may have one or two Trail Counselors. They will operate on a ratio of 2-5 campers to 1-2 staff people depending on the age, experience and needs of the group.
  • Widjiwagan all gender trips may have one or two Trail Counselors. They will operate on a ratio of 2-5 campers to 1-2 staff people depending on the age, experience and needs of the group.
  • We will select Trail Counselors based on their experience working with youth and interest in leading all gender trips.
  • Trail Counselors leading all gender trips will confirm campers’ pronouns and preferred names. They will also use correct pronouns and names throughout the trip experience.
  • We will brief the Trail Counselors of all gender trips on health and hygiene needs that effect people differently based on their biology or gender presentation including menstruation, chest binding and shaving.

Sleeping, Changing and Showering

  • Campers and staff on all gender trips will stay in one tent and in a single room cabin.
  • Groups will establish a changing areas and a communication plan for affording campers privacy while changing.
  • Campers on all gender trips will shower in our gender-neutral shower house at the end of their session.
  • Widjiwagan has many different bathrooms options at our basecamp. We will work with each camper to pair them with a bathroom option that meets their needs.

Camp Facilities

Bathroom and Shower Options

  • Widjiwagan offers gendered and gender-neutral bathroom and shower options
    • In our summer program, campers primarily go to the bathroom in biffies (outhouses). All biffies are gender-neutral.
    • The bathroom in the downstairs of the Sigurd Olson Center offers a gender-neutral plumbed bathroom option.
    • Widjiwagan has two washhouses that offer single gender plumbed bathrooms and shower stalls. Campers are always welcome to choose the side of the washhouse that they feel best aligns with their gender identity and meets their needs.
    • Widjiwagan also has a gender-neutral shower house that offers individual shower rooms with doors that close.

Gender Specific Notes on Preparing for Camp


  • Widjiwagan campers who menstruate should make sure to bring enough menstrual products to care for themselves if their have their period while on their trip or “on trail”. The lifestyles changes that accompany trail life can sometimes mean getting your period for the first time or at an unexpected time. Best to be prepared!
  • All Widjiwagan campers receive an opaque, plastic “blue bag” for discarding personal trash including floss, Band-Aids and menstrual products. Campers are welcome to store menstrual products in the top of their pack or in the group daypack. Groups will stop regularly throughout the day to give campers time for personal care like drinking water, putting on sunscreen, going to the bathroom and taking care of needs related to menstruation. However, it also important to have an open line of communication with the Trail Counselor in case you need to stop unexpectedly. Hand sanitizer, water and soap are always available for folks to clean their hands when they need it. Campers keep their bodies clean by swimming on trail.
  • Generations of menstruating people have lived and recreated in the outdoors throughout human history. Your counselor can answer any questions you have. You’ve got this!

Chest Binding

  • We recognize that chest binding often has important emotional benefits but it also can have physical risks depending on the type of binder a person chooses to use. We encourage campers and their families to research risks associated with their binder style before coming to camp. Many binders are not recommended for use during exercise because they restrict lung function especially when wet. As a result, these binders may not be appropriate for campers to wear during physically challenging wilderness travel days. Campers who wish to bind while at camp might opt for an athletic compression shirt, dedicated sport binder, layered t-shirts or tank tops, a high support sports bra or layered sports bras instead. These options offer chest compression but also are designed to let the lungs expand and the skin breath. We encourage campers to try exercising with their binder at home before using it at camp.


  • Widji Campers and staff generally do not shave while on trail because cuts present a risk of infection. We understand that some campers may need to shave their faces in order to align their gender presentation with their gender identity. We will work with campers on an individual basis to create a plan for shaving their face on trail as necessary. We encourage campers not to shave their legs or armpits because of the added difficultly of keeping these areas clean.

Crossing the Canadian Border

Campers who register for Quetico, Explorer Canoe, Advanced Explorer Canoe, Advanced Explorer Backpack and Voyageur trips should be prepared to travel to Canada. These campers will have their identifying documents reviewed and may have their legal name referenced. Border agents have the jurisdiction to submit folks crossing the border to a search.

Supporting Trans and Gender Non-Binary Campers

  1. We do not disclose participant medical information with other participants or their families.
    1. We recognize information related to a participant’s gender identity, sex assigned at birth, and transition status as medical information. As such, we will not share this information with other participants and families.
  2. The YMCA Camps will work with transgender or gender non-conforming participants and their families, in the case of participants who are under 18, to meet each participant’s unique needs as we are able.
  3. YMCA Camp Staff will not assume a participant’s pronouns (He, she, they etc), gender identity, or name. YMCA Camp staff will ask all campers how they wish to be addressed at camp, including name and pronouns.
    1. Families can change the name or gender ascribed to a campers profile in our registration system by contacting the Customer Service Center
  4. Camps will provide transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) participants access to programming and facilities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and does not stigmatize them to the extent that we are able. Facilities that TGNC campers will be able to access based on their gender identity include but are not limited to bathrooms, changing rooms, saunas and cabins.
  5. In the event that a YMCA Camp is not able to meet the needs of a TGNC camper or family due to current limitations in our programming and facilities, YMCA staff will be open and transparent about these limitations with the TGNC campers and their families.
  6. We will accommodate any participant who expresses a need or desire for increased privacy by offering them access to alternate bathroom, showering and changing spaces as long as these accommodations do not result in stigmatizing TGNC participants.
  7. We cannot change the registration of a participant who is under 18 without the written consent of their parent or guardian.

Please email Info@widji.org for more information on our practices related to gender or to connect directly with a Widjiwagan Program Director.