Pandemic Pivots

Screenshot from “Being Grounded in Strangeness” by camp leader Meika Johnston

Typically, the camp is held on Gambier Island, and holds meeting year round on the shared territories of  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Watuth), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nations. But, we pivoted to make sure youth were supported during COVID-19 while keeping their communities and elders safe. Through engaging virtual workshops and activities, youth made new friends, connected with resources, and inspired each other. Our focus on health, wellness, leadership, and creativity was based on what youth were asking for at this time. CampOUT! participants gained social and life skills, inspiration, and beautiful networks of support! You can check out our 2021 program offerings here:

We based our 2021 virtual program on our learnings from 2020!

Immediately after the first pandemic shut-down, CampOUT! and Out in Schools created a program called ZoomOUT!  for all 2020 camper applicants!

We put our heads and hearts together with our partners at Out in Schools early May 2020 and created a virtual program series called ZoomOUT! to bring together the youth who applied to come to camp. We were honoured that Elder Gertie from Shíshálh (Sechelt) Nation opened each session in a good way. Just like at camp, we had smaller ‘cabin groups’ to get to know each other better. We played games, shared stories, met new people, learned cool things, and had our minds blown and hearts filled by everyone’s brilliance. Unlike camp…. instead of walking over to the ‘Care Cabin’ if campers need support, they could message their leader and Camp Director, anna, would connect with the youth and pop them over to connect with one of our amazing emotional care bears (trained child and youth mental health workers) in the zoom ‘care cabin’ room to talk and learn about specific resources! We also rarely watch films at camp so it was awesome that Out In Schools selected and screened short films for us! Youth participated from across BC and gained access to resources, inspiration, and community.

In collaboration with Trans Care BC, we offered our annual CampOUT! Parent/Caregiver Day as a webinar on July 6th to all support people in camp applicants’ lives to better equip their caregivers in supporting LGBTQ2S+ youth. The online session was created by CampOUT! staff, parents of campers, Trans Care BC, Out in Schools, and was informed by all of the youth who participated in ZoomOUT! To see the slideshow created for the Parent & Caregiver Webinar, visit our Resources Page!

What was ZoomOUT!?

ZoomOUT! was an Out in Schools and CampOUT! collaboration to provide queer, trans, Two-Spirit youth programming during COVID-19 physically distancing restrictions. Of course, because this is CampOUT!, there is no cost for registration or for this program. Our supporters believe that queer, trans, and Two-Spirit youth matter and make it possible for us to create programming for you!

Participants got to:

  • Meet other amazing queer, trans, and Two-Spirit youth and leaders
  • Connect with each other in breakout rooms facilitated by camp leaders
  • Screen 3 phenomenal films specially curated for CampOUT! youth
  • Learn new things
  • Find out about LGBTQ2S+ resources and upcoming programs and opportunities
  • Feel seen, be inspired, and have some fun!
  • Contribute ideas for the CampOUT! education session for your parents and caregivers (“What do you wish your parents/caregiver/service providers knew butwish someone else would teach/tell them?”)

How did we accommodate up to 120 youth online in a meaningful way?

Realistically, in the digital world, we can accommodate a certain number of people in a meaningful way based on the amount of time we can focus on a zoom call for, and the number of volunteer leaders facilitating “breakout rooms”. Age is the arbitrary way we categorize cabin groups at CampOUT to create gender inclusive groupings! So… we are inviting all 2020 camper applicants to register for the sessions based on your ages to keep the group sizes manageable. We hope in the future you will get to be in similar cabin groups at camp together! Until then….

2020 Participants registered for:

  • Ages 18-21: Tuesday June 9 and Thursday June 11, 3:45-6PM
  • Ages 14-17: Monday June 15 and Wednesday June 17, 3:45-6PM

Parents, caregivers, and other support people registered for a July 6th Parent/Caregiver Webinar led by CampOUT!, Out in Schools, and Trans Care BC and informed by ZoomOUT! participants.

A note on accessibility: we understand that while online spaces are more accessible than face-to-face spaces for some people, they have unique barriers as well. The registration form is an opportunity for us to learn what support folks may need in order to participate. Please follow up with us to let us know how we can support you in participating. Thank you!