Held at Chá7elkwnech, Gambier Island, at Camp Fircom, CampOUT! lives, learns, and breathes on the unceded, shared, ancestral, and occupied, traditional lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Watuth), Stó:lō, Shíshálh (Sechelt) and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nations of the Coast Salish peoples.
CampOUT! experience & approach
UBC CampOUT! is a summer camp for queer, trans, and Two-Spirit youth ages 14-21 from across BC. Our organizational focus is to increase the health and wellness of LGBTQ2S+ youth populations by providing a financially accessible annual program that directly responds to the needs of this community. We offer transformative, land-based leadership development opportunities and have served over 800 LGBTQ2+ youth in BC. CampOUT! brings us together to learn about decolonizing, anti-racist and disability justice approaches to education and leadership from each other and from mentors in community. Annually, we bring 95 participants together from across the province.
Lifting up our diverse, shared experiences
We recognize that youth in BC have vastly different experiences from one another based on their families, cultural experiences, support systems, school, and community resources. Youth health and wellness increase when intergenerational support is present. CampOUT! offers an opportunity for participants to form meaningful relationships with a wide range of community mentors that share their experiences and can offer support and inspiration. By providing access to diverse community building and practical skills and an intergenerational leadership approach, campers and leaders alike build self-esteem, inspire each other, and foster hope and resilience. After camp, they are encouraged and supported to bring what they have learned into their home communities.
CampOUT! is held at Chá7elkwnech, Gambier Island, amidst trees, plants, beaches, and creatures. While most initiatives for queer and trans youth are urban, CampOUT! is an opportunity to have a safe and fun experience in the great outdoors. Building community in nature is an experience like no other. The trust, honesty, humour, and openness that can be cultivated in a camping situation is empowering and inspiring in a unique way. CampOUT! makes this type of community building possible for youth that may not feel safe or inspired to attend other outdoor programming
Past participants live “off the grid” at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island together for a week. They receive education about waste streams and environmental sustainability. They experience a safe and gender affirming place to swim in the ocean and learn and boating and paddle boarding skills. They get to try out hiking in the forest and throughout the program are led in reflection activities. Participants receive teachings from Indigenous leaders, elders, and outdoor educators. Past participants have shared that through this program, they have become less afraid of nature, are inspired to continue accessing nature, become more mindful of environmental impacts of waste, and are passionate to advocate for environmental rights and sustainability.
To learn more about the relationship we have with this land that we live, work, and play on, click here.
Past Campers report increased confidence, self-esteem, social skills, feeling of belonging and connection, awareness of social issues, health literacy, increased communication and self-advocacy skills, and courage. Many past camp leaders have gone on to higher education and careers in the social services, medicine, counselling psychology, social work, library sciences, organizational leadership and even municipal politics!
For more on what CampOUT! looked like over the years, click here.
The program is committed to removing financial barriers so all interested individuals can experience the outdoors, gain leadership skills and awareness of social issues, and access critical resources for queer youth. Direct program costs are $2000/person. We fundraise year round to cover ALL associated costs for each youth participant and to pay youth leaders for their leadership.
CampOUT! participants are asked to pay a $75 registration fee to demonstrate their commitment to attending the camp; however, this fee can be waived upon request! We are committed to supporting all participants that may need assistance with travel costs and travel reimbursements are available.
The camp itself is accessed via water taxi and the walking paths are loose and packed gravel. Camp Fircom host staff have access to a golf cart and truck and can provide lifts for folks that may need assistance getting from the dock to the main camp area. There are wheelchair accessible cabins, bathrooms, dining hall and program areas, but there is one hall that is only accessed through a flight of stairs.