This page was created to be a hub of resources for youth and families, as well as a place for learning and growth. We started building this page because of the onslaught of anti-Trans* legislation in many state legislatures right now and in recent months (2021). We aim to provide mental health resources and places of community for Trans* youth, as well as educational resources, and ways to take action. The page quickly grew.
Young people who carry many different identities are being attacked, traumatized, and forgotten. While this is a small piece of support, we hope it can be a place to start, connect to other resources, learn, and take action, together.
We will update this page regularly.
Two nights ago, eight people were killed in violence across three Asian-owned spas in Atlanta, six of them being Asian American women. We are devastated by this news. As we mourn and reflect, we also want to take action in solidarity with the Asian American community inside and outside of Camp Fire. Asians/Asian Americans (of all Asian ethnicities) have been continually targeted and increasingly attacked throughout American history. Hate-fueled violence is not a thing of the past but continues to this day. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, there have been 3,795 reported Anti-Asian hate incidents. In 2021 alone, StopAAPIHate has reported 503 incidents in less than three months. Violence takes many forms, including the words we use. We have said it before and we will continue to say it – there is power in words. Racial slurs, jokes, and offensive name-calling are all acts of violence that perpetuate hostility towards AAPI communities.
Our kids are paying attention. Some may be fearing for their own or their family’s safety; others are looking to adults as an example as they wonder how to show up in this moment. In fact, today is Absolutely Incredible Kid Day®, a day when we call adults to encourage the young people in their lives. Today we say to you, the Asian/Asian American youth in our programs, we see you, we support you, and we will continue to work to create spaces free of hate where you feel safe and have every opportunity to thrive. It is unfair and unjust that you or anyone in your family or community has experienced any hate because of your race and ethnicity. You are amazing and inspiring. We will advocate with and for you. We will work for positive change in the future.
Hate has no home in Camp Fire. One of our strategic commitments over the next 18 months is engaging in actively antiracist practices. One antiracist practice is taking some kind of action in the face of inequality, inequity, and hate. We want to share some actions you can take (where to donate, who to follow, what to read, etc.), as well as resources on how to talk to young people about hate crimes.
We have been aware of the term APIDA – Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans. If it was not clear above, this message is for those who identify with that term as well. We see you.
Our hearts and minds are heavy with grief and anger from the multiple incidents of brutality and racism we have witnessed over the past several months. We must stand with our Black youth, families, and staff in sadness, compassion, and anger for the repeated trauma and racism they have faced and continue to face in our country. It’s time for change.
These recent incidents continue to shine a spotlight on injustice and systemic racism and structures that hurt so many and wound our communities, time and time again. And then there are the very real harmful mental health impacts youth and adults face when these high-profile incidents of police brutality and white supremacy go viral. Yes, when they are caught on film they bring much-needed attention to the issues, but we recognize these are not isolated incidents.
As an organization, our own color-blindness may have kept us from speaking up on issues of race but we believe it absolutely shapes our experiences and claiming to not see color can harm us and stop us from addressing the inequities we know exist. In alignment with our values, standing up for and with our young people, our inclusion statement, and the work we are doing as an organization to address and expand our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we want to publicly acknowledge the grief and trauma our black youth, families and, staff are experiencing. We care about you. We see you, and we want to extend our support and find out how we can better serve you. We must do better. Our youth deserve that from all of us.
Camp Fire celebrates and works to create safe spaces for youth of all sexual orientations and gender expressions. In 1993, we amended our inclusion statement to expressly include sexual orientation. We have always been an organization committed to meeting youth and families where they are and are always learning how to show up in a way that supports and affirms them. In that spirit, we amended our inclusion statement again in 2019 to include not only sexual orientation but also gender identities and expressions. In 2019, Camp Fire started work on a three-year initiative to expand access to overnight camp opportunities for youth in three underserved populations, one of them being youth who identity as LGBTQ2S+. We are currently in the third year of this initiative and hope to expand this work in years to come.
For decades, there have legal battles both at the federal and state levels over Trans* rights. Right now, Trans* youth are being targeted with multiple states moving to pass laws regarding Trans* youth in sports and young peoples’ access to gender-affirming health care. Camp Fire firmly believes that ALL youth should be given opportunities that affirm who they are. No person, of any age, should be denied access to safe healthcare, or the ability to participate fully in society.
Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to a bunch of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. To learn more about the Trans* asterisk, check out this resource.
LGBTQ2S+ | 2S is for Two Spirit. Two Spirit is a term designated for Native, Indigenous, and Alaska Native LGBTQ+ individuals. The word came from the Anishinabe language and means having both female and male spirits within one person. Two Spirit has a different meaning in different communities. –Tribal-Institue.org
Camp Fire is on a journey to acknowledge and rectify our history of cultural appropriation. Part of this journey is recognizing the harm that has been done and working to build new, trusted relationships with Native and Indigenous communities. As we move forward into new partnerships and spaces, we want to honor the significant and largely unrecognized contributions of Two Spirit and Indigenous people. By adding 2S to our LGBTQ2S+ acronym we remind ourselves that without these contributions we would not be here today and hold space in the future of Camp Fire for Native, Indigenous, and Two Spirit people to we welcome, affirmed, celebrated, and supported.
Camp Fire has a long history of cultural appropriation – a history we are currently reckoning with. We are in the middle of a process of learning, unlearning, and repairing the harm of that history. In 2020, we began work with Thrive Paradigm to help us take a deep look into our programming and practices to gain a more full understanding of where we are currently as an organization. A task force was established to conduct an audit and make recommendations for next steps. You can learn more about that process and our future plans for this work here.
Young people want to shape the world.
Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are.
In Camp Fire, it begins now.