When I think of camp as a kid, I immediately think of those awkward moments of not knowing which group to sit with, who would be my friend, and hopefully a cool older kid would look out for me because I was (and am) a weirdo.
All of these same emotions flared up in preparation for my first Camp No Counselors weekend. As a cis white male I realize how easy I have it in a hetero-normative society. And yet, here I was feeling apprehensive heading into this camp weekend for adults.
Acceptance for being who you are is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. However, for many of my friends in the LGBTQ communities, that can be a statement that hits too close to home, to a much further extent.
That battle can be had in every direction ― family, friends, work, and significant others all have a way of commenting on how you identify with the world. That’s why, from a young age, I’ve felt very impassioned to do what I can as an ally to these incredible communities.
Unlike the very real and awkward situations you experience as a kid, I found none of those challenges at camp as an adult. From the moment I stepped onto camp, I realized every one of the people there was open-minded and fun-loving.
I felt at home. Being able to be yourself, in whatever way you want, is a freedom we all aspire to have, but many take for granted.
Camp accepted me for all of my strange and weird ways and celebrated each of our experiences. It’s important that a place like this exists. Not only because it’s a safe space in an otherwise chaotic world, but camp frees you from the daily burden of being someone else, and allows you to reconnect with who you really are.
While every CNC weekend is open to all, the fact remains that until now, these camps have tended to bring in a majority hetero/cis crowd. I’m so glad to see CNC created a special weekend intended for the LGBTQ communities, and its friends. And I can’t wait to attend, because this is going to be freakin’ fun.
Over the past few weeks/months the world has seemed to become less inclusive; it’s become divided and full of hate.
Camp accepted me for all of my strange and weird ways and celebrated each of our experiences. It’s important that a place like this exists.
As an advocate and host for several pride and LGBTQ events across the country, I know the value of creating social change through unique shared experiences. I believe uniting people together to share good times helps change attitudes, expose ignorance, and create bonds.
Camp has helped with that. I’ve done two camps this year and can honestly say I’m a better person because of it. I have friends from around the country, from of every race, of every gender, regardless of sexual orientation or religion, all thanks to camp. I’m so glad CNC is doing a LGBTQ and Friends Camp so more of these lifelong relationships can be made in a community that might not always have this opportunity or freedom. It’s too common for those in these communities to feel a lack of freedom, or feel that freedom is defined differently for them. It’s so exciting to see brands reach out to once ignored or maligned populations. Even though I’m a cis guy, I think we need advocates from the perceived “norm” to help the cause.
Thanks to camp, I’ve found my own version of freedom, being able to do whatever I want, without judgment for an entire weekend – I can let loose without fear.
I can’t wait to see how everyone else at camp finds their own version of freedom.
See you at camp!
Chad is an avid snowboarder who spends his days balancing budgets. When he’s not taking his pants off for various good causes he is heading to music festivals. He is based outside of Washington D.C.