Frequently Asked Questions
Any project, organization or business with supports or engages in summer-camp style programming for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally communities is eligible for membership in the Queer Camp Alliance. That includes, but is not limited to, camps serving families of LGBTQ parents, vendors offering discounts to queer camp programs and foundations interested in supporting queer camp programming.
The use of the word "camp" in a project does not necessarily qualify as summer-camp style programming. Please read this explanation for more information.
Programs that welcome LGBT participants, but do not specifically program for LGBT participants, are not eligible for camp membership at this time. However, camps that can show LGBT specific marketing or outreach are welcome to join as partners, which provides very similar membership benefits.
A primary goal of the Queer Camp Alliance is to help increase the capacity of our members. So, it would be counterproductive to place financial worries or burdens on them.
For now, membership in the Alliance is free. While that may change in the future, it would only occur with input from members (your first chance will be the online New Member Survey). Additionally, scholarships and other opportunities would exist to ensure the dues do not present a barrier to membership.
Any shared resources will be selected with input from members and be voluntary to participate in. Assisting with covering the cost of any shared resources is also voluntary.
In some cases, such as advertising, not sharing in the cost of a resource may prevent your organization or project from fully participating. However, even in those cases, every effort will be made to provide some benefit to all members. An example would be mentioning this website - which is designed to help drive traffic to the websites of our members - in a print advertisement purchased by multiple members via the Alliance.
It is possible that to help make certain services available to members, annual dues may be considered. However, that decision would only be made after consulting with the Advisory Board - which every member organization can appoint a representative to.
Additionally, a founding principle of the Queer Camp Alliance's parent organization, The Aequalitas Project, is that nonprofit programs which charge participants a fee must also provide a means for overcoming any financial barriers those fees may place on otherwise eligible participants. In other words, even if membership dues are added in the future, there will be scholarships or other financial assistance to make sure all interested and eligible organizations and projects are able to participate.
Queer Camp Alliance
As told by Gregory Varnum, founder of the Queer Camp Alliance and it's parent organization, The Aequalitas Project:
The idea originally came up in conversations between queer camps around 2007 while I was working at Michigan's Triangle Foundation (now Michigan Equality) and overseeing Camping.OUT, the organization's queer youth summer camp program. As awareness of the program grew, so did the number of people reaching out to me with questions about starting similar programs and to share ideas about similar programs they were directing. Informal discussion of an alliance occurred over several months, but nothing came to fruition.
In early 2011 as I was developing a new venture, The Aequalitas Project, a number of organizations and individuals once again began to engage me in conversations about queer camp programming. The development of The Aequalitas Project was partly inspired by my experiences developing Camping.OUT and its subsequent demise due to organization politics after my departure. The timing seemed ideal to renew the conversations about bringing the queer camps together in a coalition for support and sharing resources.
The decision was soon made to make the Queer Camp Alliance a founding pilot program of The Aequalitas Project. Both are still in their infancy, and I hope if you're inspired by either, you will learn more about how you can contribute or involve your organization.
Decisions on financial and programmatic aspects of the Queer Camp Alliance are determined by The Aequalitas Project based on input from the Advisory Board. However, should positions on public policy matters be taken, they will be decided by a majority vote of the Queer Camp Alliance membership at the time of the decision.
This structure will change as the Alliance continues to development based on needs of the membership and input from the Advisory Board - utilizing The Aequalitas Project's development process.
Once you accept the premise of why it's a good idea to have summer-camp style programming specifically for the queer community - understanding why an alliance for those camps would be helpful becomes easier to understand. We suggest you read that answer before you read this one.
Similar camp programs have a history of creating associations or alliances to share access to resources and communicate with folks operating similar programs. The benefits of coalition building are far reaching and as the number of queer camps grows - so do the advantages of having an established alliance.
The primary purpose of summer camp style programs is to provide educational or cultural development in an outdoor setting over multiple days. This is accomplishment by encouraging campers to utilize nature and community to take healthy risks in a safe and nurturing environment.
Many people involved with queer camps have a variety of reasons why, but this is our best attempt at explaining those motives and source of inspiration.
It would be fantastic if we lived in societies where members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) communities were treated as equals to their allies. However, that reality has not yet arrived.
While members of the queer communities continue to be treated as second-class citizens - they will face discrimination, harassment and bullying within many institutions. That is especially true for queer youth - 99% of whom experience bullying related to being LGBTQ. Since every member of the queer community starts as a youth - it's safe to assume that a vast majority of the community have faced some form of unequal treatment.
As is often the case with minority populations, that makes it increasingly difficult for members of the LGBTQ community to feel completely at ease in certain community building settings. The same is often the case for children of LGBTQ parents - who are often aware of the discrimination and harassment their parents receive. It should be noted that this is a result of societies and not their parenting; LGBTQ parents most often do a phenomenal job.
Summer-camp style programming often invokes certain expectations for people - which they often base on their past experiences - usually school or work. If they've faced discrimination or harassment in those places, and for the queer community those chances are high, it's not a surprise that they might be skeptical of this new experience.
Allowing campers with shared experiences to interact allows for the creation of a remarkable community experience. That opportunity combined with the many advantages of summer-camp style programming provides for a powerful program. Involving allies in that community can help bridge that experience beyond the camp world. The scouting, faith, sports, music, theater and computer enthusiast communities have all taken advantage of these opportunities - and it's no wonder the queer communities would be interested in doing the same.
No! Members of the Queer Camp Alliance have programming for children, teenagers, young adults and more experienced members of the community. However, summer-camp style programming is most commonly associated with youth camps and are considering especially beneficial during our years of child development.