This article was published on March 29th, 2020
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents decided the best thing for you to do during the summer was go to camp? They would give you all of these ridiculous reasons before sending you away, like “you need to learn to socialize”, “it builds character”, and “you’re really going to have fun when you play sports”. Little did they realize, that you were gay, you weren’t going to have fun, and you absolutely did not want to subject yourself to an entire week of heteronormative camp songs and outdoor rituals where you have to worship fire in a big camp fire circle for some reason.
It’s funny how life works, because your parents were absolutely correct. They just had the timing all wrong. In case you haven’t heard of it, gay summer camps are the thing to do during the summers. Gay and lesbian adults are heading for the great outdoors and getting back to nature throughout the summer months.
Gay summer camp is not a new thing; it’s been around since the 90’s. It is increasing in popularity as gays are starting to realize the beauty and power of having their own space, even if it is temporary. Gay summer camp is probably exactly what you’re imagining – a large outdoor space full of activities, crafts, events, fire worshipping, etc. It is basically exactly like any summer camp teen movie you’ve seen, except everyone is either queer or an LGBT ally.
Admittedly, on paper this sounds corny. But really stop and ask yourself, when was the last time you were in a completely gay space in this way? We’re not talking about going to gay bars or going to Pride. Both of these are for a day or a night, and they come to an end way sooner than they should. Gay camp is a complete immersive experience, where you’re taught to open up like you were supposed to as a kid. It’s just that this time, you know everyone is gay, and now you can bond without having this secret hovering over your head.
Since you don’t have this baggage, you can just explore yourself, and each other in a free and open manner. Summer camp is a time for you to work on yourself, and to help others work on themselves. If you’re afraid of being athletic, you can participate in any one of the sports activities, like dodgeball, capture the flag, rowing, etc. If you want to party and explore your sexuality in a way you’re afraid to do in your normal life, now is the time. If you just want to sit around a fire and listen to people who are going through a similar issue, this is the place.
The real plus of going to gay camp as an adult is that you’re an adult; people can’t just tell you not to do something because you’re a child. You also have much more influence over the activities and the groups so you can always find something to do that suits you. Also, there’s drinking and partying. There is lots of love, closure, camaraderie, and facing your childhood fears, but you don’t have to go without the vital social lubricant that sometimes makes these events easier to get through. But you also don’t have to party if you don’t want to, because you’re an adult. It’s your summer camp, so enjoy it how exactly the way you want. Just remember to have fun.