Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1, 2014

It was another interesting month of trying to decide what to write, Poppets. See, I’ve known for a year that I wanted to write a spring, pre-registration, article on summer camps for LGBTQ kids and families. Then Adam Baldwin – one of my favorite, under-rated actors {Full Metal Jacket, Firefly, Independence Day, Chuck} – showed his tail in a big way. Equating same sex marriage with incest. Implicitly condoning fat shaming. Name calling. Cyber-bullying.


While I batted around an idea about him, and the issues his tweets raised, I decided fuck that. The best way I, personally, can counter that kind of hate is to point toward love. Acceptance. Support. Inclusivity. So yes, Adam Baldwin, I am calling you out. You and your ilk. But I’m doing it by saying “ignore him and his vitriol. Look here instead. Pay attention to these people. Because these people – these places – are worth your time. He’s not. Not any longer.”

Now. Let’s talk about LGBTQ summer camps, shall we? Because while we don’t often think about The Betty Pages as being a family-friendly publication, there’s really no reason for it not to be. I mean, Betty is a parent. David and I are parents. Somehow, I suspect a lot of you are parents. Some of our kids are straight, coming from LGBTQ parents. Some of us have LGBTQ kids. Whatever the familial make-up, having kids and wanting the best for them hardly precludes any of us from reading The Pages.

But summer can be a tough time for kids who live outside the hetero-standard. Often, if they are LGBTQ themselves, they face ostracism and bullying for being who they are. Often, if they are straight, but come from same-gendered parents, once that gets out, they face ostracism and bullying because of who we are. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Camp Ten Trees and Camp It Up! believe it can be – it should be – different. And they set out to make it different.

Camp Ten Trees, here in Washington, is a traditional, residential (or sleep-away, as we used to call it) summer camp, with traditional activities and events for children and teens. Along with those programs, though, they also offer age-appropriate programs that explore social justice, identity, and empowerment. Archery and self-acceptance, all in one place! As of this year, they are also offering a LEAD (Leadership, Education, And Development) Camper program for teens 16 and 17 years old, which replaces their CIT (Counselor In Training) programs from previous years.

They offer one week for kids from LGBTQ/nontraditional families, and another week for LGBTQ and allied kids. The great part about that is that LGBTQ kids and their straight siblings, or their straight best friends, can still enjoy camp together. This year, those are August 10-16 and August 17-23, respectively, with the LEAD Camper program spread out over both weeks. www.camptentrees.org or 206-288-9568 for more information.

Camp It Up! down in California, is a non-traditional camp in that it is multigenerational and family-focused. The whole family, from toddlers to grandparents, can come for 4 nights, or 8 nights, and enjoy a vacation that is outdoorsy, yet civilized. With plenty of activities geared toward specific age groups, and whole families, it takes more work not to bond and make friends than it would to enjoy yourselves. At the same time, none of the activities are mandatory, so if you just want time with your own family, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by other LGBTQ families, you can do that, too.

Dates are July 26-August 3, and again, you can stay 4 nights, or 8 nights, depending on availability. http://www.campitup.org/index.html or (510) 338-0370 for more information.

And! Each camp offers sliding scales and will work with you to help keep camp from being cost-prohibitive. So, don’t think you can’t do this for your kids because of finances. Registration has already started, and will fill up fast, so call or click soon.

It’s almost summer, Poppets. The best time to be a kid. And thanks to Camp Ten Trees and Camp It Up!, it’s the best time to be any kid – and that’s worth more than hate, in my book.

Until next month, Poppets, take care of you – and each other.

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