This year marked the 4th year of Camp fYrefly Ontario, hosted by the School of Education at Trent University, a retreat for two-spirited, lesbian, gay, trans-identified, bisexual, questioning, intersexed, queer, and allied youth to support the development of leadership skills and personal resiliency necessary for them to become agents for positive change in their schools, families, and communities.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, camp coordinators designed a program tailored for remote delivery, which instead of taking place over 4 days in July, would be ongoing, beginning in March. To provide a more personal connection in the virtual world, each camper was sent a care package kit with art supplies, a camp journal, and a camp T-shirt.
"We reacted in March by starting a weekly drop in to manage the isolation rural queer youth face that was heightened by the pandemic”, say camp directors Jasper Hollows and Rachael Nicholls. “In June we added community arts-based workshops. Now through July and August we have established an online community through Discord, Zoom and Instagram. We are ecstatic with the vibrant discussion and engagement that we weren't sure was possible this year."
Speaking to the current climate, faculty director for Camp fYrefly Ontario, Dr. Blair Niblett stated that, “We are sad that we’re unable to hold our camp in person, but excited for the rich virtual engagement opportunities that we are offering on a weekly basis to gender and sexuality minority youth throughout the summer of 2020. Redesigning the camp for remote delivery over the last few months of heightened socio-political activism amid the pandemic has pushed us to think deeply about our purpose and objectives. This work has helped us to strengthen our commitment to centring marginalized identities in our programming and advocating for social justice in the face of intersecting oppressions including transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism, classism, language injustice, and more.”
Trent University extends a thank you to camp directors Rachael Nicholls and Jasper Hallows, as well as all of the youth leaders and adult volunteers who have worked tirelessly in support of our campers. Without their dedication, we would not be able to offer such a rich and life-changing camp program for 2SLGTBQ+ youth.
Learn more about Camp fYrefly at trentu.ca/campfyrefly