This Camp Is Not Your Average Summer Camp

This weekend, the Salt Lake Tribune reported on the first-of-its-kind feminist camp for Mormon girls. Yes, you read that right: it's a feminist camp for Mormon girls.

Feminism and Mormonism aren't necessarily the most obvious pairing, especially considering the strictly traditional gender roles that mainstream Mormon culture regularly enforces, including that Mormon women are often encouraged to be satisfied with a life as a stay-at-home mother (see Emily Matchar's 2011 Slate article for a glimpse into the glitteringly-perfect life of Mormon mommybloggers). My only knowledge of nascent feminism in the Mormon world is Barb in Big Love's flirtation with feminism within the LDS faith, but apparently it's not as much of an anomaly as us non-Mormons might believe.

The two-day feminist camp for Mormon girls incorporated activities that were Mormon-specific and feminist-specific, as well as ones that straddled both worlds. For example, activities included making up fairy tales that didn't involve the heroine getting married or rescued at the end, discussing famous Mormon feminists and options on modesty, as well as choosing to "discuss with a friend an issue of either gender violence, reproductive rights, rape culture or child care that they felt 'passionate about.'" Campers could earn badges in third-wave feminism, personal empowerment, spirituality, and subversive activism, among other categories. Can you swoon over feminist activities at a camp? Because if so, I am definitely swooning over those badge categories! Oh. Em. Gee.

The camp sounds pretty awesome and empowering for a girl of any faith, but especially girls who might be feeling limited in their options and identity as a Mormon female. The Feminist Girls' Camp was a pilot program and had participants from Feminist Mormon Housewives, Sistas in Zion, Ordain Women, Let Women Pray, Young Mormon Feminists, and other groups. Not all groups agreed on all Mormon feminist issues, but, as JaneAnne Peterson, one of the camp's organizers, said, "It was primarily about cross-generational community building, togetherness and new friendships."

As a non-Mormon, I obviously can't speak too knowledgeably about the Mormon feminist community or about trends in the religion, but I hope this camp will be back again next year. One of the coolest things is that the camp wasn't just for girls (as its model, the LDS church's Young Women Camp is), but was inclusive of entire families.

Image: mandarina94 on flickr