Rainbow Camp™ ‘transformative’
Ali Pearson Sault This Week
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 1:24:19 EDT PM
Councillors arrive a week before campers to prepare and receive training. Brandon Fiedler, Charlie Cowen, Camp Director Dr. Deborah Woodman and Angelique Duke pose at Rainbow Camp™. Ali Pearson/Sault This Week
A quiet and secluded summer camp once a year transforms into “a space of radical transformation and inclusion,” as described by Em Gorman, a seasonal intern at Rainbow Camp™.
Dr. Deborah Woodman, camp director, explained it “fills a void… regarding gender, sexual identities and expressions.”
To its founders – Welcome Friends, a group dedicated to educating and promoting awareness in society — Rainbow Camp™ is an experience “created by need, moulded with love and built on education and inclusion.”
Most campers are from Ontario; a few have traveled even further to experience a sense of belonging and a level of understanding that they may have never experienced.
The camp celebrated its fourth summer last week. Its location, in Algoma District, is kept confidential.
Woodman said an education session presented at a congress introduced her to the concept, with a description of Camp Firefly, “a leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, inter-sexed, queer, questioning and allied youth.
“We considered bringing such a camp to the region, and with board member Harry Stewart’s encouragement we created our own,” Woodman said. “Rainbow Camp is designed around the curricula developed to aid in activism, with its main goal being self-understanding.”
Welcome Friends saw the value in the leadership camp but realized just coming to camp would be well outside the comfort zone of many prospective participants. The camp, instead, would provide these youth with the opportunity to be honest with themselves.