Last October I moved to Vermont to take an AmeriCorps position with the YWCA Vermont as their Programs Coordinator. Shortly after I started, I was asked to coordinate Camp Outright, a 6 night, 7 day residential summer camp program for LGBTQQA youth in Vermont, New England and beyond as Camp Outright is a collaborative effort between Outright Vermont and YWCA Vermont. This opportunity was exciting as it was aligned with the YW's vision of providing peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. While I knew from the beginning of the planning process that camp would be an incredible experience and after going through all the chaos of planning and implementing any program, I knew Camp would be a success. However, I had no idea how life changing the experience of Camp Outright would be for all of those involved--campers, counselors and volunteers.
Camp Outright is made up of an amazing team of volunteers that would gladly pull a schoolbus full of youth all the way up to Camp Hochelaga. Help us keep our energy and spirits high as we fundraise to ensure that Camp Outright can continue to provide a safe, healthy and supportive space wherein youth do not need to worry about finding their next meal, having enough clothing to stay warm or a community to show them love and support.
Camp is always a place where new friendships are formed. But when you're a kid that's been told by classmates, teachers, parents, siblings, the media, even friends, how strange you are, how different, how "queer", making a friend who knows and truly understands your struggles or having an adult tell you that you are amazing just the way you are, may truly be lifesaving. For some of our kids, Camp Outright was the first place this has ever happened.
"I deserve to live."
On the last day of camp, we all gathered around a circle and privately wrote on an index card what we were taking home with us from camp. The above was one of the responses. "I deserve to live." I cannot imagine the struggles anyone could endure to get to a place where "I deserve to live" becomes a revelation instead of an everyday, innate knowledge. But some of our youth do.
This is why it is so important to donate to Outright Vermont. Camp is run entirely by volunteers. I know that all of you can't give up a week to be with us at camp, but perhaps you can give up $5 or $10. Your donation ensures that the work of this organization will continue into the future.
Finally, Camp is something so important to our youth that the first $50 donation I received for this event was from a camper.