Opportunity abounds at LGBTQ summer camps

LGBT-inclusive summer camps for kids, young adults, and people of all ages are enjoyed by many each summer. The purpose of these organizations is to allow members of the LGBTQ community as well as allies to connect, relate, and grow. Most camps offer typical indoor and outdoor activities that are normally seen at summer camp, such as arts and crafts and water sports, and some others also include leadership and acceptance workshops. Ultimately, the camps try to cultivate positive environments in which participants of all sexual orientations and gender identities can appreciate one another for their differences while simultaneously building strong relationships and morale.

The Naming Project, a faith based organization that aims to provide a haven for LGBTQ and allies alike, is holding a camp session from July 20-25 at Bay Lake Camp in Deerwood, Minnesota. Youth ages 14-18 of all sexual and gender identities who are interested in talking and learning about sexuality and gender in the context of their own spiritual understanding are encouraged to attend. The overarching theme of the camp, "The Light Shines," is based on John 1, and daily activities include kayaking, swimming, and other games. To see if you're interested or to find out further about The Naming Project, check out the documentary Camp Out. Several other camps are also geared toward providing and promoting positive experiences for LGBTQ youth and many more. Many of them, similar to The Naming Project, are interwoven with the positive effects of faith and spirituality.

Camp True Colors is a camp in Willow River, Minnesota for youth ages 13-18 who identify as LGBTQ and are living out of home or at risk for homelessness. It will be held July 6-11, and it focuses on building a positive community and providing a safe and stigma-free environment. Activies include canoeing, fishing, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and talent shows, and education sessions on topics relevant to the LGBT community are also provided.

Camp Aranu'tiq is a nonprofit program serving trans and gender-variant youth ages 14-18. They run various programs in both New England and California, such as a week-long flagship program for ages 8-15, a 5-day leadership camp for both Aranu'tiq summer camp alumni and those who are brand new to Aranu'tiq, and a weekend-long family famp for transgender and gender-variant kids and their families.

Camp fYrefly is Canada's only national leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, intersexed, queer, questioning, and allied youth. It is designed to help youth develop the leadership skills and personal resiliency necessary for them to become agents for positive change in their schools, families, and communities. The camp is holding sessions from July 10-13 in Calgary, July 24-27 in Edmonton, and August 1-4 in Regina.

Camp Ten Trees is a nonprofit organization in Washington State that holds yearly summer sessions- one week for LGBTQ youth and their allies ages 13-17 and another week for those ages 8-17 of LGBTQ or non-traditional families. Campers partake in typical camp activities as well as age-appropriate workshops that encourage the exploration of identity, issues of oppression/privilege, youth coalition building, social justice, and more.

Wonderfully Made Camp is weekend-long camp located in Philadelphia that aims to affirm and support youth who identify as LGBTQI or as an ally. The idea is to recognize each of the attendee's individual differences and strengths while also celebrating "God's welcome" to all people. The camp is in the form of a weekend retreat geared toward 9th-12th graders.

The Spiritual Pride Project in Austin, Texas creates affirming space where LGBTQIAA youth and young adults may explore their spirituality in direct relation to the aspect of themselves that may have marginalized them in a religious context. The project is in the form of a retreat for people ages 12-30 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex or asexual, and straight allies ages 14-25. Participants are involved with outdoor activities and workshops.

Camp Lightbulb is a nonprofit overnight summer camp in Provincetown, Massachussets for LGBT youth ages 14-18. The camp runs for one week between July 5-12 and is broken into 5 sections: summer camp fun, art lab, Ptown campus, wellness, and self-discovery.


Campus Pride will be holding its annual Camp Pride from July 15-20. Campus Pride is an organization that promotes LGBT and ally student leaders and campus organizations in the areas of leadership development, support programs and services. The goal is to create safer, more inclusive LGBT-friendly colleges and universities, and to develop, support and give “voice and action” in building future LGBT and ally student leaders.

The Youth Project is holding Camp Coyote from July 4-7 and Camp Seahorse from August 22-25. Camp Coyote is for trans-identified youth from across Nova Scotia to share experiences, spend time in a safe space, and meet new people, and Camp Seahorse is for the broader LGBT community. Both will be held just outside Halifax, Nova Scotia.