LGBTQ Camp for All, hosted by the Traverse City YMCA and Equality Michigan in partnership with Polestar LGBT Center and Affirmations

Written by Ian Unger Prior to the camp, I was in charge of recruiting youth from Affirmations to attend the Camp for All. Out of the 20 youth that showed up to the camp, almost half were from Affirmations. Of the youth who attended from Affirmations, all identified as transgender or non-binary. Many who attended from Affirmations struggle with depression, anxiety, and issues with families not accepting their identity. Of all the youth that attended camp, over two-thirds identified as transgender or non-binary. Nearly all youth who attended had never been to camp before, and were able to attend because of scholarships given by Equality Michigan. I attended the camp as a mentor for the youth and as a presenter and assistant to Equality Michigan. It was a fantastic experience to be there for the youth. During the camp, the youth were able to experience camp activities, such as going swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, a ropes course and rock wall, and group team building games. The youth also were able to attend sessions regarding activism, starting gender-sexuality alliances, writing and arts for coming out, and being transgender or non-binary. These sessions helped to empower the youth and assist them in embracing their own identities. This camp helped a youth who has been coming to Affirmations for quite some time to finally come out of their shell. It allowed two of our gender nonconforming youth go swimming and feel comfortable doing so for the first time in several years. We also have two youth from the Ferndale area who had not frequented Affirmations stop by drop-in for their first time, and they plan on coming back.

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