Becoming Affirming across generations: Outdoor ministries

Camp Kidston in Nova Scotia voted last year to begin the Affirming process, the better to offer a public and intentional welcome to children and youth, and to the young and older adults who staff the camp. This is an exciting first that sparked new work for AU/SE.

A task group shared between Affirm United and the United Church’s General Council has begun meeting. It’s sharing stories about vision, policies, and practices, and looking at how best to adapt the Affirming process for the unique needs of outdoor ministries/camps.

Morning games at Cave Springs United Church camp, ON- one of the outdoor ministries involved in the Affirming task group.

Morning games at Cave Springs United Church camp, ON- one of the outdoor ministries involved in the Affirming task group.

The group includes conversations with Ontario’s Rainbow Camp and the University of British Columbia’s CampOUT. Like Camp Tapawingo’s Camp Caterpillar, they are hosted by United Church facilities, but the programs themselves are not United Church, and are created and run by outside groups. One of the task group’s questions, then: what would it take to have explicitly LGBTQQIA-welcoming United Church programs in our own outdoor ministries?

Have a look at CampOUT’s summer 2015 video of its program Camp Fircom for a vision of what could be. And see this excellent reflection from Rachel Hearn on Rainbow Camp on why these spaces make such a difference.

If you know of a United Church outdoor ministry that is interested in offering a welcome to LGBTQQIA campers, please get in touch with one of our excellent volunteer Affirming ministry coordinators.