What do you get when you combine s’mores, archery, arts, wilderness skills, and bug juice with a safe space for LGBTQ youth and families? The camps below all fit the bill, offering the activities you’d find at a traditional summer camp with a safe and nurturing environment for LGBTQ kids.
Brave Trails Brave Trails is more than just your average summer camp. While we have a lot of elements of a typical camp, our main focus is helping our campers grow in to the brave leaders they are destined to be. Our program focuses on four key elements: Leadership, Community Building, Self Realization, and Service. We use workshops, adventure and artistic programming, service projects, peer connections, and positive role models to create a safe space where youth can thrive. With the skills learned at camp, our campers will be primed to thrive in their schools, workplace, and personal life. In addition, our campers will have the knowledge and confidence to be more impactful leaders and implement innovative social change in their communities.
Camp Aranu’tiq Nick Teich dreamed of a safe & fun place for youth who felt like they might not fit in at other camps because of their gender. To meet their needs, he founded Camp Aranu’tiq in 2009. They have flagship summer camps in New Hampshire and California, as well as leadership programs for older teens and weekend family camps, serving 400 campers per year.
Camp Highlight Camp Highlight is a week-long camp for children ages 8 to 15 who have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parent or parents. The camp's experienced counselors and staff engage campers in a wide variety of recreational and team-building activities that help them develop self-confidence, social skills, and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment.
Camp Lightbulb Launched in August 2012, Camp Lightbulb celebrates LGBTQ young people by providing a positive week-long, overnight summer camp experience for LGBTQ youth, aged 14 to 17. Based in Provincetown, MA, Camp Lightbulb campers come from across the US and identify along the full LGBTQ spectrum. All staff members are subject to references and background checks. Roughly 40% of campers receive full or partial scholarships.
Camp Odyssey Located near Portland, Oregon, Camp Odyssey is no ordinary summer camp. Providing diversity training and leadership development program for Oregon youth between 14 and 18 years of age, Camp Odyssey promotes appreciation, understanding, and respect for cultural differences while building leadership skills. While participants certainly have fun, they leave empowered with the life skills needed to transform only themselves, but also their collective communities.
Camp OUTdoors! Based in Phoenix and Prescott Arizona, with collaborative partners throughout the state and country, Camp OUTdoors! helps Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) youth ages 11-24 develop collaboration and leadership skills, and the development of a strong sense of self and community. The camp's emphasis on low tech and high engagement is reinforced via activities like horseback riding, zip-lining, a drum circle, and educational workshops.
CampOut Family Camp CampOut's mission is to provide a nurturing and carefree space for LGBT families to experience the magic of summer camp together. Located between Chicago and Detroit, CampOut offers an all inclusive traditional camp experience for the whole family over a long weekend. Enjoy programs, camp traditions and over 30 land and water activities like tennis, waterskiing, paddleboarding and rock climbing in a beautiful setting. All are welcome!
Camp Outright Camp Outright is a program of Outright Vermont. It's open to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and straight allied (LGBTQQA) youth, ages 13-18. Counselors-in-training ages 19-22 and trained adult volunteer staff facilitate programs based on campers' interests, including traditional summer camp activities like soccer, archery, tennis, swimming and boating, as well as visual and performing arts, and special topical workshops that address social justice issues within the queer, trans, and questioning community.
Camp Ten Trees At Camp Ten Trees, campers participate in camp, group, and individual activities that strengthen old skills and develop new ones in a structured outdoor setting. In addition to specialty waterfront and archery areas directed by nationally certified instructors, the camp offers arts & crafts, boating, swimming, creative writing, cartooning, dancing, nature walks, low ropes challenge, archery, discussions, music, sports, youth organizing, and much more. The Leadership, Education, and Development (LEAD) Camper Program lets campers ages 16-17 gain the skills needed to become summer camp volunteers. Camp Ten Trees takes justifiable pride in the fact that they have never had to turn away a camper for financial reasons.
One Heartland One Heartland's mission is to "improve the lives of children, youth and families facing significant health challenges or social isolation." The core programs that support that mission are a series of summer camps, including Camp Heartland (for youth infected or affected by HIV/AIDS), Camp Hollywood HEART (a Malibu-based arts camp for youth affected by HIV/AIDS), Camp Northstar (for children and youth living in transitional housing), Camp 5210 (for youth working to achieve a healthy lifestyle), and Camp True Colors (for youth identifying as LGBTQ). Once a year, the organization also runs OneFutures, a youth retreat for ages 16-22, which is open to all populations served by One Heartland.
The Naming Project The first camp for Christian LGBTQ youth, The Naming Project provides a safe and sacred space where youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities are named and claimed by a loving God. Campers are given a place to explore and share their faith among a healthy and life-giving community, while being given the tools to reach out to others and advocate for systemic change in church and society.
TYEF Camp Run by the Maine-based Trans Youth Equality Foundation, TYEF Camp is for kids ages 7-17. Camps are held in the summer and fall, and include kayaking, arts, hiking, zipline, archery, bonfires, support groups, and more for transgender youth.