What is CampOUT!
CampOUT! is a social justice summer camp for queer, trans, Two-Spirit, questioning, and allied youth ages 14-21 from across BC & the Yukon. The camp is held on Gambier Island, unceded Coast Salish territories. In affiliation with the University of British Columbia, the camp provides opportunities to develop leadership skills, build self-esteem, foster hope and resilience, and connect with resources to support health and well-being (physical, mental, social, sexual, educational, and spiritual). Participants return to their home communities with new skills, resources, and friendships. CampOUT! provides a supportive space for LGBTQ2S+ youth to celebrate and be celebrated for who they are.
Aligned in vision and mission, CampOUT! and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice brings to the Faculty of Arts at UBC, a unique opportunity that integrates community initiatives and high learning. We provide CampOUT! with a supportive institutional infrastructure, operational resources, and numerous opportunities to collaborate with and build new relationships across communities. By supporting CampOUT! we are helping to fulfill the University’s commitment to foster safer learning spaces and strengthen community outreach both at the Institute and on campus.
Much like the diversity makeup of youth campers at CampOUT!, many queer, transgender and socially engaged students are drawn to the work at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. For the same reasons that CampOUT! inspires personal growth and interpersonal connections by offering a place to belong, GRSJ also provides space for students to critically engage with their own sense of identity and belonging. We believe this greatly reduces the sense of isolation felt within the University campus.
CampOUT! director, Anna White, voices the importance of such a program, “the migration of CampOUT! to GRSJ breathes life not just into the Social Justice Institute as well as the Faculty of Arts community, but it also breathes new life into the camp itself, now in its seventh year.”
Housing CampOUT! under the Social Justice Institute has the effect of enriching the experiences of students taking courses at the institute looking to connect with community-oriented groups. The CampOUT! advisory committee is comprised of representatives from 8-10 community groups as well as UBC representatives.
The visibility of CampOUT’s incorporation into the Institute drives students and faculty to understand the importance of community-oriented initiatives at an academic institution that may otherwise be isolated from the community. CampOUT! is shifting people’s perspectives of the University by creating intentional space for LGBTQ and marginalized communities.
This is a unique opportunity for GRSJ to harness the power of social change, to shift people’s perspectives of the University, and to improve the creation of a more cohesive, collaborative and meaningful social justice work.
Finally, the powerful experience at camp is for everyone. CampOUT! is not just a camp for LGBTQ youth, it truly is a leadership opportunity for social change. We can all change the world!