This is about a nine year old girl in Nova Scotia who is not allowed to attend a fishing/hiking/golfing day camp precisely because it is billed as “boys only” by a municipal recreation group. There is a girls-only one called “Glamourous Girls” and is all spa/make-up/jewellery-making stuff for girls. There are co-ed camps, but shouldn’t a child be able to choose a camp based on shared interests and not just on what someone else decided is appropriate for a gender? The municipal group won’t let the girl in now because they are afraid of more requests for exceptions.

It reminds me of being about ten or nine and being so jealous that my father took my brother fishing but I was not to go because it was supposed to be a father-son thing. My mom took me to the mall instead . . . :p I find that funny because Mom and I still treat shopping and going to the mall more as a chore or necessary evil than as an actual activity of choice.

Girl angry she can’t fish with the boys

Canadian Press

HALIFAX – Nine-year-old Lydia Houck was looking forward to a day of fishing, hiking and golfing when she browsed through a list of summer day camps offered near her Nova Scotia home.

But the only option that fit her interests was just for boys.

In contrast, the only all-girl camp, dubbed Glamorous Girls, offers jewelry-making and a trip to the spa for manicures and pedicures for girls aged five to 12.

Lydia says she’d rather be fishing.

“It was really frustrating that they were being discriminatory and they were saying that boys should look forward to doing this and that girls shouldn’t do this,” Lydia, who will be entering Grade 4 in the fall, said in an interview from her home in Windsor.

“My brother and I go fishing a lot and I enjoy going outside a lot, and this camp seemed to fit that description and it was pretty much the only day camp that did.”

The Municipality of the District of West Hants offers three other day camps that are co-ed – a trip to an amusement park, a day at the waterslides and a pirate-themed excursion into Halifax – but Lydia said none of them sounded as fun as the camp for boys.

The municipality says the idea for next Monday’s spa day came from similar all-girl day camps elsewhere in Nova Scotia, with at least one Halifax-area community staging its own spa event for young girls this summer.

West Hants recreation director Kathy Kehoe denied the camp lineup is discriminatory and said there are no plans to reverse the decision before the event for boys takes place on Tuesday.

“It’s the only complaint we’ve had,” said Kehoe. “It’s been very well-received in the public. Whether we do it again or not, it’s hard to say. We’ll make that call next year.”

Kehoe said it would be difficult to let Lydia into the outdoor camp so close to the event, since it has long been advertised as boys-only and others might want similar exceptions.

The municipality’s warden, Richard Dauphinee, agreed there was nothing wrong.

“We’re always tried to be innovative. This is a pilot project, we’ve never run it before,” said Dauphinee. “They decided they would try just girls things for the girls and just boys things for the boys and see how it worked.”

Jacqueline Warwick, the co-ordinator of gender and women’s studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said there is nothing innovative about splitting boys and girls into activities that are traditionally masculine and feminine.

She said she was “astonished” that a municipal government would be behind such blatant gender stereotyping, adding that the idea of a spa day for young girls is part of a larger cultural phenomenon that ensures girls and boys fit into specific gender roles.

“I do think that there is a widespread movement to restore these very repressive, old-fashioned gender roles,” said Warwick.

“This emphasis on frivolity . . . can be understood as a way of occupying girls’ and women’s time. They spend all their time and money on these activities. It’s a way of containing women and girls into these safe stereotypes where they’re not going to disrupt society.”

Lydia’s mother, Lorna Houck, agreed.

“It’s sad that 5-year-old girls are being steered into this glamorous role, and the real world isn’t about being glamorous and how we look,” she said.

“Save that until they’re older and they know why they’re being glamorous, and what they’re being glamorous for and to whom. It seems like the adults that are making these decisions have their own preconceptions about what little girls should be.”

Lydia, who has taken her complaint directly to the warden and the municipal council, seems resigned that she won’t be able to join the boys’ camp this year, but she hopes her story will spark change in the future.

She said the municipality should “think more about what effect this would have on people and what the message would be that they’re giving people with these day camps.”

I’ve never cared much for the idea of slotting boys and girls, from a young age and conscientiously, into types and roles and certain activities based predominantly upon their gender. I hate the pink/blue dichotomy set up from birth — if children gravitate on their own to certain kinds of toys and games, fine, but it feels so contrived sometimes.

I also think little girls are being drawn into focusing on the externals, and beauty regimens, much too early. I read an article about preteen girls who wax their legs (what is there to wax?!!)and have two hour hair-care regimens or tanning booth appointments . . . it is fun to let kids play and experiment at being grown-up to a point, but when it becomes the primary activity or focus . . . I find it scary. What kind of effects/body image will these girls feel as they get older?