It has been my amazing privilege to direct the Lewis River Jr High Girls Camp for 9 years, and I cannot imagine ever not doing it. This is the core of my summer, and of my ministry. Forever and always, these are my girls.Except I cannot say that anymore.  was our first camp with a transgendered camper (born female, living as male). It was easy for us because this camper attended last year as female, and he was comfortable enough with us and the camp process to return as a male. I was so in awe of how my staff worked to say non-gendered, inclusive words, and proud of my other campers for accepting without prejudice.As our church embraces God’s call to honor the Worth of All Persons, and recognize the sacredness of God’s beautiful creation, the mission center must create guidelines for camps to include transgendered campers and staff in ways that are equal and fair and loving.I am convinced – now more than ever – that the Community of Christ is ready to be the spiritual home for the truly vulnerable, to love and accept all of God’s children just as they were created to be. And our camping program has to be ready to love and accept those children of God. When the day comes that I have a teenager come to me who was born male but is living their authentic life as a female, and asks me if she can come to camp, I don’t want to have any hesitation. We cannot be reactionary, or we will lose those first brave few. We must be proactive in creating rules and guidelines for my staff that allow me to confidently tell her or him, “Yes, of course! There is a place for you at my camp!”I also can no longer direct a camp called ‘Lewis River Jr High Girls Camp.’ We’re not one anymore. I’ve wanted to change the name for years, but kept waffling on what would be appropriate. My camp needs a name that reflects that we are open, ready to accept all whether they were born female, choose to live female, or prefer non-binary. Now I know decidedly:I am officially petitioning the Youth Camping Team to re-name the Lewis River Jr High Girls Camp to ‘Camp Be-You-tiful’.
There was more in my letter to the team, but it has not all been addressed as of yet. Moving forward, my team will be working towards always using inclusive language, getting used to the process of self-identifying pronoun preferences, and being gracious to ourselves and one another as we learn and grow together.