“It’s being couched as us versus them and that was never the intention,” said Culver School District Superintendent Stefanie Garber. “It was just circumstances that needed to be understood and addressed.”
Last month, Garber opted to bring students home from Camp Tamarack after some of them reported feeling uncomfortable with the gender identity of certain counselors identifying as non-binary.
“We wanted to come out with a statement saying, yep, this was sort of a perfect storm of errors, and we are going to continue working together like we have in the past to sort this out, and we commit to doing that,” said Garber.
Camp Tamarack Executive Director Charlie Anderson says a meeting with the superintendent goes a long way toward securing the district’s relationship with the outdoor school.
“We have our values,” said Anderson. “We also adhere to the Oregon Department of Education and title nine, but I think that there is a way that we can work to clearly share with parents what what looks like in an outdoor setting.”
Another big part of the understanding between the school and the camp includes making sure both are communicating with parents before the students leave for camp.
“The camp has committed that before students ever go, that they will communicate all the protocols at the camp, their counselors and then parents can make a decision if they elect their students to go or not,” said Garber.
Garber says the decision to pull the class away from the camp has caused a stir in Central Oregon, but she stands by her decision.
“Because of the circumstances that were there, if those circumstances were to have risen again, yes. But it is way easy to look in the rear mirror view and see what you should do different, but both of us agreed we are just focusing on looking forward,” said Garber.
Other school districts, including the 509J and Bend-La Pine Schools, also released statements regarding counselor gender identity.
In light of the Culver School District pulling kids from the camp, the 509J School District decided to send kids to the camp. But rather than stay the night, students were brought back the same day.
The Culver School District has rescheduled to go back to camp Tamarack in the spring.
You read the joint statement from the Culver School District and Camp Tamarack below: