On the volleyball court, a boy spiked a shot and his teammates cheered. Nearby, some campers lay on mats, doing yoga stretches. A girl executed a series of cartwheels. Over in drama, the kids performed a “cranky old lady” talk show; everyone cracked up.
Before the week was over, there were campfires, Capture the Flag, a skit night, and a talent show. Camp Aranu’tiq seemed like a traditional New England camp, complete with requisite lake, rustic cabins, and 65 shrieking campers.
Only when you see tags around campers’ necks, with the words “(HE)” or “(SHE)” under their names, do you realize something’s different here. It is the only camp of its kind in the country, a camp for transgender kids, where idle chatter on sports, music, school, and teenage crushes blends right in with talk about “coming out,” “transitioning,” puberty blockers — and bullying.
For privacy and safety reasons, Camp Aranu’tiq has never allowed media inside, but recently let a Globe reporter and photographer spend a day at its wooded Connecticut grounds during its weeklong session in late August. Campers, parents, and staff are required to sign a confidentiality contract, and the exact location is not revealed until the child is enrolled. “They know it’s a safety issue,” said founder and director Nick Teich.