Camp can be an amazing, affirming experience for your LGBTQIA+ child, but you need to find the right one!

I have some very fond memories of my 3 summers at “Farm Camp,” but also some unpleasant ones from camps that weren’t quite the right fit. Farm Camp was where I connected with friends, rode horses (my favorite activity!), sang songs, did silly dances, went on scavenger hunts, had campfires, and waited anxiously for letters and care packages from home.

Finding the right camp for your unique child takes some inquiry – of the camp and of your child’s expectations and needs. Here are some suggestions to get you started. 

People gathered around a campfire at camp

 Questions to ask the camp:

  • Is the camp accredited? And by what agency? The American Camp Association is considered by many to be the gold standard – here are their standards at a glance.
  • What is your process for accepting campers?
  • What training does staff receive about safety, child development, and establishing safe boundaries for themselves and the campers?
  • Does every person (not just counselors) who interacts with the campers undergo a background check?
  • How does the camp handle bullying or negative behavior?
  • What happens if my child isn’t getting along with other campers, especially bunkmates?
  • How do you help campers acclimate to camp and how do you handle homesickness?
  • Who should my child go to in case they need a safe adult to talk to?
  • How often, and in what ways, can I communicate with my child while they are at camp?
  • What percentage of campers return for more than one year?
  • How do you handle romantic or sexual relationships between campers? Between staff members?
  • If my child doesn’t like the food that is served and chooses not to eat it, what happens?

Questions to ask yourself (and your kiddo):

  • What are is your child hoping to experience at camp?
  • Are there activities that they definitely do/don’t want to do?
  • Are they ready to be as independent as the camp may expect them to be?
  • Am I interested in camp because I need them “out of the house” or because it’s the best experience for them? (it could be both!)
  • Where are they in their identity journey and what will they need to feel affirmed at camp?
  • Does my child have the social skills to make new friends?
  • How comfortable are they with sleeping away from home? For how long?
  • Are they able to speak up for themselves needed?
  • Am I ready for them to be away?
  • What are the expectations for communicating with one another? If you and your child aren’t on the same page it can lead to hurt feelings.   

Getting the answers to these questions, and more, is a start to ensuring that your child will have the summer that you and they are hoping for! What questions should we add to the list? Send yours to info@queercampfair.com