Transcending Adolescence has created a summer camp program for transgender youth to have a safe space to connect with each other and receive support from a staff of trained camp counselors at a newly renovated property in Central Florida.
Through outdoor activities like archery, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, swimming, campfires and more, pre-teens and teens will build their confidence and communication skills while they have fun experiencing summer camp in a physically, mentally and emotionally safe environment.
Throughout the session TA staff build relationships campers to recognize their strengths and to encourage campers to recognize their own strengths as well. Staff will help campers understand how to use their strengths to build confidence, look at life less fearfully and make positive changes to lead to long-term success.
TA staff are committed to creating an environment where youth feel safe to express their feelings and freely be who they are. TA’s Board of Directors and select volunteer staff are actively updating and monitoring programming. Each month our board develops, strengthens, and experiences S.P.E.A.R. for quality assurance.
The increase in trans sports bans and anti-trans and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, such as Florida’s "Don't Say Gay" bill, are eliminating young people's abilities to be their authentic selves and creating barriers for them to live healthier, happier lives. This includes outdoor recreation, personal development activities, academics, and more. As we remain committed to our mission, we are also aware of how this increase in hate and violence affects the youth we serve.
The goal of our Resilience Retreat is, as the name suggests, to build resilience in transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse youth aged 13-17. A total of 10 cabins will house 16 youth and 4 counselors for our one week summer session. Among staff will be LMHC interns, experts in outdoor recreation, experienced camp counselors, and those who also break through gender norms and identify along the gender spectrum.
The programming our team has built has exceeded the expectations of our board's original vision and goals. We are excited to bring new additions to this year’s programming, including: horseback riding, equine therapy, yoga and self defense classes, and more. In addition to these activities–as well as archery, rock climbing, boating, swimming, and team-building–we are now partnering with California State Polytechnic University Humboldt students (see more below) who will design and lead outdoor backpacking expeditions. In these expeditions, youth will learn basic survival and backpacking skills with the goal of feeling more empowered, confident, and able to achieve their goals–despite the odds against them.
After these activities, participants will be encouraged to engage in group stress reduction conversations with mental health professionals from various universities and organizations across the nation. Trained staff will facilitate conversations to help youth reflect on the activities of the day, support each other in identifying challenges they've overcome, and translate the knowledge they’ve gained to everyday life situations. Topics discussed will include: gender dysphoria; social and medical transition, anxiety and depression, healthy living, and handling misgendering and transphobia.
Campers are free to share thoughts on all topics in a safe and nurturing environment among mental health professionals and their peers. We look forward to increasing our reach this year and the years to come through our Resilience Retreat and more.
The "s" in s.p.e.a.r.
Support is one of the most important of TA's Resilience Retreat 5 pillar curriculum. We feel it is crucial to have access to support systems both during and after retreat sessions.
Thanks to our partnership with the Trans Mentor Project piloted by the Sam Devorah Foundation, Resilience Retreat attendees can keep in touch with their TARR community via TMP’s completely virtual and safely monitored hangout platform created exclusively for TARR attendees.
Trans Mentor Project is a national e-mentoring program that pairs trans and nonbinary teens and young adults (13-24 years) with TGNB adult mentors (23+ years). TMP provides mentees with supportive, identity-affirming mentors who will empower them to meet their personal goals and thrive.
In addition to providing year ‘round access to the community formed at TARR, campers have the option to engage in weekly one-to-one video meetups and have the opportunity to interact with other trans and nonbinary peers across the country through themed discussion groups, workshops, panel discussions, and guest presentations.
Check out what our friends at Trans Mentor Project are doing to help you stay in touch with others from Transcending Adolescence. This is a great opportunity to create friendships with other trans and nonbinary (TGNB) peers nationwide.
For more information and to apply to be a mentor or mentee please visit their website using the link below.
Transcending Adolescence’s Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) was specially designed by Cal Poly Humboldt Senior Jake Hofheimer. This was an intentional partnership created by and for transgender individuals to be implemented at TA’s Resilience Retreats (TARR) to promote trans inclusion in the outdoors.
TARR aims to create a trans-specific space for trans teens ages 13-17 to be able to exist as trans individuals in a safe environment and help them build the resilience, skills, and confidence it takes to be a trans person in this world. We will use our unique format of group debriefs each night that will open dialogues amongst the attendees about how they can apply the skills they are learning to their everyday lives. By immersing attendees in a one-night backcountry experience, challenging them to step out of their comfort zones and learn skills that they may otherwise not have the opportunity to learn, we aim to support them in the development of self-confidence and open the world of outdoor recreation to individuals who are often excluded from participation. This program presents opportunities to experience the outdoors in a queer and affirming space that honors their life experiences and will create a space that fosters learning, community development, and confidence-building.
Thank you, Jake, and Cal Poly Humboldt!