Anonymous asked: Can I let my campers know that I'm gay?
I think the answer to this depends heavily on context and experience. Some things to consider:
- Do some digging into your staff and organization’s opinions. Are there people on staff with you who already know you’re gay? Will it jeopardize your job? Are you prepared to handle that possibility? Ultimately, some camps have rules about relationships of all natures and that they are ALL supposed to be hidden from campers. If this is the case, it might not be that difficult for you because the topic isn’t discussed*.
- What kind of camp you work at/for- some religious camps would not be ok with an out counselor, others might be fine with that honesty. If you work in an area of the country that is a little more open, you might be ok. If you work at a camp that has a history of gay staff you’re probably ok. Even the program can be a factor because some parents could get upset about sharing a cabin/tent/living space with their child.
- How you tell people: It might not be the best to just blurt it out at drop off day right off the bat. On the other hand, if you are naturally very open about your sexuality or exhibit personality traits** that might raise questions, honesty might be comforting. If you decide to tell your campers, I would do so in a careful manner and be sure to consider their age.
- Answer camper questions honestly to the best of your ability, in a manner that best fits the situation. I think this is always something to strive for as a counselor on ANY topic, not just sexuality. Some of my best conversations have occurred because a staff member or a camper was genuinely interested in my experience. If a camper asks about your sexuality or significant other, think and then speak.
I hope that this helps and I hope that there might be some other people with experience who might provide specifics.
*We all know that things that are considered “off limits” or inappropriate still get discussed and that when they do, it can be very meaningful. I think openness and a focus on what the camper is truly asking is the best method for these conversations.
**I do not condone judgements based on assumptions however, other people make them. Currently there is a lot of turmoil and people feel very strongly about issues of sexuality and as always, stereotypes might play against you.