Youth & Volunteer Testimonials:
“It was a great experience for me to be able to support these youth and watch them grow over the few short days at camp. Many of them came to camp not knowing anyone and they left with lots of new friends. I was there as a counselor, but I learned a lot from the youth about acceptance, facing fears, and challenging limits. These youth are leaders and I am inspired by the difference they are making in the world. It is great that OUTdoors camp is there for LGBTQ youth, but I look forward to a day when they dont have to wait for next years camp to feel accepted, supported, and loved. The youth who experience camp are empowered to bring that reality closer and closer each year.” Senator Katie Hobbs, Phoenix AZ
“The counselor role at camp is a coveted position by volunteers because of the deep connection you are able to make with the youth that attend camp. As counselors, we are personal guides through the minefield that is adolescence for these LGBTQ youth. Its a privilege to be able to help young people discover and uncover their potential and dreams. The journey that the youth make in just a few short days, is nothing less than inspiring. For me, the counselor role allows me to drink from the cup of possibility. These youth have so much good ahead of them, they have so much talent, so much passion, so much energy! By supporting them, I too am filled with the wonder of possibility and hope for the future. “ Maggie Garvey, Volunteer, Prescott AZ
Four days at OUTdoors Gay Camp make the other 361 days of the year bearable in a not too “LGBT friendly” town. Coming from the mountains of North Carolina, I receive no support. Not only are there no resources for LGBTQ+ youth in my area, but simply finding LGBT friends is difficult. Where I live, I don’t belong. I simply wear a rainbow necklace to a store and the cashier shows a look of disgust. Camp teaches me that I am worth something, that I do have purpose, and that though things are tough I am strong enough to not only overcome my obstacles, but to change the course for LGBTQ+ youth in the future who might share the same misfortune to live in my town. OUTdoors! Gay Camp is revolutionary. It’s the one place in the world where LGBTQ+ youth are validated, loved, and uplifted. Camp goes beyond holding hands and singing songs around a fire (though we totally do that). It brings together a community of strong, courageous individuals and suits us up for the battle against hate. With the lessons we learn from camp as our shield, and the massive amount of love that is poured into us – as our sword, we can conquer anything. It will be the youth from OUTdoors! Camp to eliminate the hate in this world. People say that home is where your heart is and though I may live 2,000 miles away from Phoenix, camp is where my heart is. Camp is home and I will forever carry it, and the people I’ve met, with me for the rest of my life. Jessica Williams, North Carolina
OUTdoors! Camp has changed my life in so many ways. I know understand what its like to be a leader. I know what I want to accomplish and as the leader I know I am I truly do believe in myself. I have never been to a place where I feel so loved and supported, with that kind of support it gives the strength to become a more respectful, powerful person. Camp has changed me in so many ways with the love and support of everyone I feel like I can take on the world. -Shyla Perkins, Yuma AZ
“As a first year camper to OUTdoors! Camp, I was excited. I was excited to be with friends and to also meet so many new people. It was an opportunity for me to be in a place where I could be accepted by everyone for who I am. This camp helped change my outlook on myself. I found that I inspired people and they felt like I was a mentor to them. I would have never thought that I would ever make that kind of impact on people. Especially in the four days we were at camp. Camp empowered me to challenge myself to be better and to think about myself in a more positive light. It gave me confidence. Family is so important to me and now I feel like I have more people in my life that I can call family and that makes me happy.” Sydney Harrison, Phoenix AZ
OUTdoors! Camp is the feeling I get to when I am in yoga and I reach that point where my body and mind become one. The only thing I hear is my breathe. The only thing I feel is love, existence, individuality, and a desire to stop all the hate in the world. This past weekend was an experience I will value for the rest of my life. To know there is a place like OUTdoors! Camp for youth to be who they are and be able to express that openly brings a sense of hope that all those youth out in the world struggling to be heard will be able to someday take part in the OUTdoors! experience. After getting home from camp my inbox was full of emails stating how I changed some of the campers lives. There are no words to express how good I feel. Not only has my life been impacted through the people I have met this weekend, but I did the same for others. I am truly grateful for this organization, and cant imagine my life without all the staff, volunteers, and youth. –Erin Mahoney, Phoenix AZ
Everyday I think what if I never found Kado’s carticle about camp in Echo Magazine, Where would i be? I realized the other day that I would either be dead, heavily in drugs, homeless, or still in an abusive relationship. I keep thinking back to that day, and reading that article and just thinking how this was a sign to get out, get help, and get involved. When I find something that I am passionate about I go in head first, and you definitely know that and have seen it.
Camp was something I only dreamed about for a while, but once I realized I would be able to help you out and actually get to be involved not only in the process, but the actual camp, everything came together. My camp experience was just a dream coming true. Being in OUTscouts, and being able to lead workshops was just another dream coming true. I know I am a leader, but camp really truly taught me how much work it takes. I never knew how much dedication, time, and responsibility it takes to be a strong leader. Camp truly taught me how to take knowledge, passion, and commitment and use them to help others. I loved waking up everyday ready to learn, make someone new smile, and overall, just bringing joy into everyone at camp! There was one moment at camp that I really just wanted to share. I was in the dining hall, lunch time and I was walking to different tables and introducing myself in my ridiculous cow costume outfit. Everyone was just smiling and so excited to meet me and talk to me, and it felt so great! Then, Julian or Ranger Mike, I forgot which one came up to me, and asked if I could go talk to a kid outside sitting by himself crying. I immediatley ran outside and found the kid. I first inroducced myself, and he just looked at me with a big smirk. I asked him to come sit inside with me and eat some food, which he ended up doing. Then, we sat together started talking, and he really opended up to me. I shared a little bit of my story that related to his, and he just could not stop smiling. He said no one has ever listened to him the way I did before in his whole life. I just looked at him, and gave him a hug. I told him that this camp changes lives, helps people grow, even leaders who lead the camp grow from their camp experience each year. He then told me that He had tried committing suicide a month before camp, and that he is thankful he did not succeed because we wouldnt have met. I started tearing up, and knew that this is truly what I want my life to consist of. I want to be that person, you all as staff and volunteers have
done for me, and I want to change lives. I will never forget that moment of pure happiness. Here at home I have so much stress and pressure at home, but being at OUTdoors Camp took all that away. For four days, I felt like life was truly perfect. That experience with the kid was just one moment of many, but was one that will stick with me forever. That being said, I started getting more involed in S.O.S. This past Monday was National Suicide Prevention day, and I found the courage to go with Donald to a middle school to spread the word. I truly feel that if it wasnt for meeting that kid at camp, I wouldnt have had that much desire to go all the way to Chandler to talk about suicide prevention to seventh graders. Thanks to camp, I am getting more involved in giving back to the community. You all have been there for me when I needed the help, and now it is my time to give back. So, Thank you Kado for everything you have not only done for me, but for so many others. I am so proud of all the hard work done for camp had come together and been a huge success! Hard work really does pay off. Much love to you and everyone else who was apart of camp. Wherever I go in my life, I will always know I have you all in my life forever. – Erin Mahoney
As an out of state camper I was a little worried. I was worried things wouldnt come together. I was worried that the person who was
suppose to pick me up from the airport would somehow forget about me. It was a big leap from North Carolina to Arizona. I had no idea what I was in for. Sure, I looked at the youtube video about camp 8-9 times. I also read and re-read everything I could on the website. But truly, nothing you see on the internet or read amounts up to what the true camp experience is like. Within those short 4 days, you become a family within your cabin. You learn that you are not alone in this world and that you have people to lean on for supprt (even if they are over 1000 miles away for me). You truly become empowered and feel stronger.
Before camp, I was semi-out. My parents knew, a few select friends knew, and my workplace knew. I was terrified of what people
would think of me. I live in a very small, rural town in the mountains of NC and being gay just isnt a convenience around here.
After camp, I was so excited. I was excited to spread the love in my community at home, the love that had been poured into me at camp. I
was excited to tell everyone around me about camp, what it did, and how it changed my life. Camp encouraged me to make a pathway for my community. To bring home what I learned at camp and possibly expand OneNten to NC. I see such a need for an organization such as 1N10 here at home.
I would say the biggest thing, the most important message that camp delivers is that you matter. Throughout the 4 days, each person is validated. Everyone is interested in hearing everyones stories. In my cabin, some of my cabin-mates shared stories with the cabin that they havent told a single person. Everyone is in the same boat. All are looking for acceptance and love. In those woods, that is what you find. You can sit at a different table during every meal and find your presence welcomed.
Camp is like the world LGBTQ people dream of. At camp, you are validated, you are loved, you are important, and you mean something to at least 1 person (but normally more). Camp gives you the strength to go home and know youre worth something no matter what other people say. Each person at camp brings something to the table and perhaps changes the life of at least one other camper over the course of 4 days.
At camp you can be authentic. You do not have to put up a mask, or worry about being thought of strangely. When you cry, 5 people will circle around you offering a hug. When you are laughing, so is everyone else around you. All the campers are truly empathetic and are willing to be by your side through your pain. With no limitations concernign who you are, you learn to be your true self. You learn who your true self is.
Camp was the best weekend ever. It completely changed my life and has put a lot of things into focus for me. I hope I can go again next
year. Camp is home.
Kado Stewart created something totally amazing and I cannot thank her and the one·n·ten staff enough.
Camp made me feel validated. – Jessica Williams, NC
A trusted colleague lingered after a meeting to talk with me one bright summer morning last August. He told me about a friend of his who was involved with an organization called one.n.ten. He briefly explained the mission of one.n.ten [OUTdoors! Camp] and that they had an upcoming summer camp with a few open spots. Would I consider sending my son? He gave me his friend’s name – Mike Schneider- and phone number and suggested I give him a call. Camp was just a few weeks away. It was in Arizona. We live just outside Seattle.
It was a risky move.
However, my instincts told me it might be worth it. My son Ross, who was 17 at the time, is not only gay, he is deaf. He has been
mainstreamed in our home community schools and very isolated due to his hearing loss, and most recently, his sexual orientation. It was risky, but perhaps worth the risk. I made the call. Mike explained to me that some of the campers were deaf and that accommodations were in place for these kids. He went to great lengths to assure me that Ross would be safe and well cared for.
When I approached my son, he was enthusiastic and willing to give it a try. So, on very short notice, we arranged an absence from school, contacted Southwest Airlines who was donating airfare to one.n.ten for the campers, and almost before we knew it, our son was Arizona bound.
During the 5 days Ross was away, we heard nothing from him. We took that as a good sign. Finally, it was time to go the airport to
meet him. I knew immediately when I saw him that the weekend had been successful. For several hours, he talked non-stop, sharing pictures, stories and impressions. Next, he went on Facebook and “friended” several of his fellow campers. They are still in touch now, months later.
A few days after Ross returned home, we were in the car. He was very quiet. When I asked him to share his thoughts, he said he missed camp. I asked him why. He said, without hesitation, “Mom, it’s the first time I’ve experienced unconditional acceptance.”
Ross will return to camp this year. He will do so with our blessings, and with the confidence that he will be in a place that not only accepts but honors who he is. We know that he will be among peers who accept and celebrate one another, and mentors who will affirm and
equip these young people for the realities of a world that won’t always understand.
We are so grateful to one.n.ten [Camp OUTdoors!] for the important work they are doing with LGBTQ youth and young adults.
– Becky Showalter, parent of youth participant