Camper 2009; Youth Leader 2010, 2011; Coordinator 2016; Mentor 2017, 2018
Camp Eclipse is … magical. That’s one of the first words you’ll hear from past campers, youth leaders, and mentors – “Camp magic.” There’s a certain air of love, acceptance, strength, community, and resiliency that you experience at Camp that I’ve never truly found anywhere else. You are unconditionally loved at Camp and you’re welcomed with open arms into an ever-growing Camp Family.
My first time at Camp Eclipse was at such a critical time in my life, it’s the biggest reason why I’m here today. At the first Camp in 2009, I was a baby queerling, coming out as a teen in my small community in rural Newfoundland and I was struggling. I don’t think I could have needed Camp more at that time to help find a connection to our community that was missing in my life. When I arrived at Camp, I was surrounded by such a fabulous sense of acceptance and nurturing from other queer youth and our mentors. We learned about ourselves, our community, our history, advocacy, and combating compassion fatigue. It ignited a fire, a passion within me to be a catalyst for continued change in our society. And this fire has kept on burning since that Camp in 2009. I found my purpose; I found reason to keep fighting. I created a QSA in my school and tried to make a difference in the lives of my peers and continued to learn how to improve my advocacy skills each year at Camp.
As I grew, I was able to become a mentor, that role model for other queer youth and see the changes that are made in their energy, their confidence, their spirit. The amount of growth and strength that you can witness building in each camper is truly amazing. Being able to return this empowerment to the Campers and Youth Leaders has been one of the most fulfilling feelings I’ve ever had. But it’s not all giving as a Mentor either. I’m still learning. I’m learning about parts of our community that I had never heard of before. I’m learning about the experiences that youth and my Elders have had in their lifetime. Learning more about myself through self-reflection and developing a greater sense of understanding of myself and uncovering parts of me that were hidden from me – all with the help of everyone at Camp.
Thanks to the love and support I experienced at Camp, I have been able to channel this passion and energy into pursuing my dream of becoming a Public Health and Preventive Medicine specialist. I hope to continue advocating for systemic and policy change to improve the health and well-being of all our community and their intersecting identities.
There is truly no place like Camp Eclipse; it has been life-changing for me.
An earlier version of this article originally published in 2018. Revised 2020.
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