Rainbow Camp. A Success Story

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With the scheduled week  a mere 15 days away, Rainbow Camp has found itself in a ‘waiting list’ situation. Taking place on the beautiful grounds and facilities at Camp McDougall, this unique youth camp offers something very special. A safe place for LGBTQ and Allied youth between the ages of 13-17 to come together and just .. be.

CampMcDougallImage2Camp McDougall, which is a United Church of Canada (Algoma Presbytery) property, will be full to capacity with youth registered for the 2016 Rainbow Camp, running July 3-8. Camp McDougall is located on the shores of L. Huron near Thessalon, Ontario.

“We’re excited but at the same time, we’re sad that we can’t accommodate all of the young people wanting to attend Rainbow Camp this year.” said Harry Stewart, President, Welcome Friend Association.Rainbow Camp

“We’re getting a lot of parents calling, looking for something for their child. Potential campers are still encouraged to apply to camp, in the event that a space opens up.” said Stewart.

There are so many young people who are trying to get to Rainbow Camp, that there is now a substantial waiting list. While this is great news, it poses challenges for the truly remarkable youth camp.

campfire“If we’re going to grow the camp, we may have to look at a space where we can offer Rainbow Camp for more than one week each summer.” shared Stewart.

Growing the camp seems to be an inevitable journey for The Welcome Friend Association. WFA operates Rainbow Camp, and is one of only a handful of camps in Canada that offer a summer retreat for LGBTQ & Allied youth.

Rainbow Camp has a dedicated team of counsellors and volunteers who are trained to support LGBTQ & Allied youth seeking a summer get-away, where safety and acceptance are implied. The counsellors further participate in the Counsellor-In-Training programme offered through Camp McDougall at the end of June.

It has become evident, especially in the wake of events still unfolding in Orlando, Florida, that finding refuge and solace for the global LGBTQI & Allied community is hugely important. For youth, having a place like Rainbow Camp to attend is well… read for yourself below.

From young people …In their own words …

·        Hello!  I am almost 16.   I’d LOVE! to attend Rainbow Camp this summer to get more involved in the gay community – to meet other pansexaul (that’s me!), gay, trans, etc. people.  I love supporting others in transitions (not me!), feels great to be there for those who need it – and I think this camp is a great place to support and be supported!  I haven’t got too many LGBTQ friends, too, and would love to meet more people like me.  Lastly, I want to understand what it means to be LGBTQ – that’s a basic question, I know.  But really, I want to know how to stand up for my sexuality and rights!  I want to know how to educate people, how to dall out homophobia!

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·        My name is ***  I have been a fellow camper for the past two years. I really hope again to be enrolled in the Rainbow Camp summer program. I really don’t know where to start, with all of these thoughts running through my head. I guess I’ll start off with saying that last year I had a blast at Rainbow camp, not to mention all the amazing people there! Which I hope to have the same amazing experience again this year because, of the amazing experience I had last year.  To begin with, some of the reasons I wish to go to Rainbow camp again this year are because of last year. Reasons being last year the support there was absolutely amazing. I felt as if a ton of weights were lifted off of my shoulders, and I had the freedom to be who I really am. To explain, I felt as if the small cabin group discussions we had with the camp director, really opened up my mind about myself and other people. So I would be so fortunate again to have the same support there again this year if I we to go to rainbow camp again this year. Secondly last year I was able to figure out more about myself, as in sexuality, gender, and identity, and I was able to help other people along their path to theirs. This is another thing I love about rainbow camp, which is that people are there to support you, not just staff but the campers too! They are there to be your friends (rainbow family) but also they support you in your own choosing of identifying who you really are. It’s not just the feeling you get when you know you’re helping others along their path, but the feeling that your one of those few people who really care about gay rights, or the right to be transgender and any other way you choose to identify your shelf. It’s not just the overwhelming feeling of when people support you or except who you are, but it’s the feeling that other people care. These are the people that change the world for a better place. It’s like what Martin Luther king junior said once “I wish for people not to be judged on the color of their skin but the content of their character.” Similar what I once heard a boy say on that Ellen show that “I wish people too not to be judged on our sexuality but the content of our character”. It’s not the color or race or even sexuality that makes up a person, but the way the treat them shelves and others. As I would too be there to not only be a camper but also be there to support and possibly even guide some of my old and maybe even new Rainbow friends!
·        Hello, my name Is ***, however as I am transgender, my preferred/female name is ***. I am 13 and In grade 8, going Into grade 9. The reason I am Interested In going to rainbow camp Is because I am transgender, and bl-sexual, so I would like to connect with other members of the LGBTQ community, gain advice from other people, and get informed on why I feel this way. Also I am Interested In going to a camp, and this one popped of the screen for me.

RainbowCampImageBanner·    My name is *** and I would like to attend rainbow camp because I went last year and it was super fun and I would like to come again. I struggle with positive body image and manic depression so the past few years have been hard for me. But at rainbow camp last summer I didn’t worry about it, I   even ate more than I had in the past week of attending. It was so liberating to not be concerned with my mental health for five days out of the whole year. Not to mention the people I met there, I still keep in contact with them and can’t wait to see them this year. Rainbow camp changed my whole perception on the world for almost a week and to me that Is an extremely powerful thing that a camp can do.
Attending camp last year made me feel more independent and I got a taste of what it’s like to be so far away from home. Last year I identified as Bi-sexual but I’m not comfortable with that label anymore, I still have the same feelings, but the identification makes me uncomfortable and I would like to find out who I am as a person. I hope to see everyone at rainbow camp again this year!

·    Hi, my names***. I am a 17 year old crown ward high school graduate. Last year I came to camp I felt truly enlightened. I learned so much about myself, and I strongly believe that it wouldn’t have happened if not for camp. Being a crown ward I shift from home to home, and i’ve never really felt completely comfortable anywhere, once again that changed at camp. In an environment where I knew I could just let go of societies expectations and norms, and be my true self. I identify as a gender non-binary/ gender questioning lesbian. I met so many great people last year, and hope to make great connections this year as well! Because of camp I became very interested in the topic of gender equity and even started teaching a workshop at various school boards of gender equity in a school setting and different pronouns and terminology to make their students feel more comfortable! I even did a lesson to approximately 70 teachers from various school boards across Ontario and taught them how they could teach our workshop at their schools. Camp inspired me to make the change I want to see in the world. And I absolutely can’t wait to be further inspired by not only camp counsellors and staff, but also my peers. 

 

·    Hello! I’m not really sure how to write a bio, but here goes. My name is *** and I live in Brantford, Ontario. I am currently finishing my last month of high school and after a year off to make money for university, I’m going to school for film and media production in Toronto.   I volunteer for the Brantford Pride Committee and am one of the first members of the Brantford Youth Pride Committee. My favourite colour is green and I absolutely love raspberries. As a queer youth, it’s difficult to find a community in a small town like Brantford. I think that’s one of the most important thing that people, especially people who are not entirely accepted by everyone else, can have, and that’s why I want to come to camp. I do know a few people through the committee that I’m a part of, and my best friend ***(who is also hopefully coming to camp) but I’d really like to venture outside of what I know and meet new people and learn new things! The opportunity for learning about gender and sexuality in a safe space is invaluable, again, as someone who comes from a small town and has had very few resources outside of the internet to get educated on queer issues. Doing that while having fun and trying new things sounds amazing. Because of financial reasons I’ve never been to camp (or been on a plane!) before and it’s something that I’ve always, always wished I could do because it just looks like so much fun. I hope that this works as a sufficient bio, and thank you so much for considering me for your camp!

‘Welcome Friend Association’s (WFA) Rainbow Camp™  is a one-week camp for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer questioning, and allied (LGBTQA) youth, their siblings and children in Queer families. WFA’s Rainbow Camp is committed to developing a camp community which honours creativity, individual choice, and social justice while having fun.

WFA’s Rainbow Camp™  provides opportunities for campers to make new friends and develop skills through traditional camp programming and innovative curriculum. More than anything, our Rainbow Camp is a fun place to come OUT and be yourself!’  (http://www.welcomefriend.ca/camp/)

 

1 COMMENT

  1. I think that Rainbow Camp is a wonderful opportunity for many youngsters. I hope all the campers have an awesome and inclusive experience!
    However, I am disappointed that the newspaper printed the testimonials of the campers. Even more so, I am appalled in the director’s decision to release the letters to the media. Simply removing a person’s name does not ensure confidentiality, especially when so many other identifying details are shared within the letter.. Trust 101 – never share information given to you in confidence!

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