LGBTQ Youth and Family Summer Camps 

Edited to add: 2018 Updated and Expanded List Available here!

This summer I had the amazing experience of being a counselor in New England at Camp Aranu’tiq, a summer camp for transgender and gender-creative children age 8-15. While canoeing, finding tiny toads and salamanders, doing arts and crafts, and playing gaga (a form of dodgeball) and many other fun activities, I watched the kids create friendships, grow in confidence, and realize that they are not the only trans people in this world. I became a part of the Camp Aranu’tiq family and saw what a summer camp environment can do for these kids. It was a life-changing week in the woods for me and for many others.

A few weeks ago at the Gender Odyssey Conference I learned from trans youth about Camp Ten Oaks and Camp Ten Trees, camps which were pivotal in the development of their identities and in creating a sense of belonging and community.  Since then I have been researching LGBTQA summer camps across the US, and have compiled a list of them here to be a resource to others.

Camp combines three of my loves: working with children, the woods/outdoors/nature, and queer and trans community. I hope that I can continue being involved with Camp Aranu’tiq and with organizations that work directly with trans youth. Many of these camps are run by a few paid staff, many volunteers, and generous donations.  Please consider supporting them! (Camp Aranu’tiq is still raising money for example for renovations in their new camp location).  And if you have LGBTQ children or young people that you are caring for, consider sending them to one of these amazing camps!

Week-Long Summer Camps: 

Camp Aranu’tiq is a part of Harbor camps. They have have summer camps (one week and two weeks) for transgender and gender-variant youth aged 8-15 years. They also have a leadership camp for 16-18 year olds, and host a family weekend in the fall. They have a location in New England and another in California. (Note the CA location only offers a week-long session).  This past year they were able to purchase their own land (116 acres on a lake) in New Hampshire! Camp activities include swimming, kayaking, arts and crafts, campfire songs, archery, Gaga (a form of dodgeball), drama, birdwatching, D & D, storytelling workshop, and more! “We operate as a typical overnight camp; do not formally talk about gender, we just let our kids be kids!” Cost for NH is $750, CA is $700. Financial assistance often available for those who qualify.

Bay Area Rainbow Day Camp: Oakland. Two weeks long.  A play-based camp for children aged 5-12 who are gender-creative, gender-fluid, gender-questioning, transgender or a cisgender ally. Also, for 13-17 year olds, On the Go Teen Camp: “A social day camp for gender non binary, questioning, genderqueer and trans* teens to explore Bay Area activities and gender identity in a safe space in a community of their peers.” $50 registration fee. $325 camp fee.

Camp Brave Trails. The first leadership camp for LGBTQ youth and allies (aged 12-20) in California, Camp Brave Trails had their first camp this summer.  Activities include a low ropes course, swimming, archery, culinary arts etc, along with workshops on activist storytelling, gender identity and expression, body image and self-esteem, Lgbtq history, and drag make-up. The whole camp also participates in a day of service. There is an $20 app fee, and it costs $750 for the week. There are partial scholarships available. Eight campers aged 18-20 will have the opportunity to participate in the Unicorn Justice League, building leadership skills and leading a few workshops.

Camp Lightbulb. Located in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Camp Lightbulb is a week-long, overnight stay camp for LGBTQ youth age 14-17.   The cost is $950 and 40% campers receive partial or full scholarships. The theme for 2015 was Follow Your Rainbow, and activities follow five elements: Art Lab, Summer Camp Fun, Ptown Campus, Great Outdoor and Self Discovery.

Camp OutRight is a week-long residential summer camp in Starksboro, Vermont for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer, questioning, and allied youth. “A queer Utopia” for youth aged 13-22, with space for 55 campers.  Youth aged 19-22 attend as part of the counselor in training program.  Camp activities include archery, arts and crafts, sports, Quidditch, Trans Group, zine-making, yoga, stargazing, swimming, and wilderness skills (among many others). Application fee is $25 dollars, camp is $550 for campers, $275 for CIT. There are a limited number of partial scholarships available for VT youth who are in financial need.

Rainbow Camp: Arkansas. Diverse Youth for Social Change Camp for LGBTQ and Allied youth aged 13-22.  This camp is a chance for young people to develop their leadership skills and build relationships. For more info email:

Camp Ten Trees. Pacific Northwest. They have summer camps for LGBTQA youth  aged 13-17 and for youth and children (aged 8-17) of LGBT and non-traditional families.  This camp is social justice-oriented, and along with the typical camp activities, the campers will engage in age-appropriate workshops that explore identity, oppression, social justice, and activism.  For select older campers, aged 16-17, there is a change to gain leadership skills through the LEAD camper program. Tuition is based on a sliding scale from 100% of tuition to 35% of tuition. Pay what you can. Full scholarships also available. Founded in 2001.

Camp True Colors is for LGBTQ youth dealing with near homelessness or who are living out of home aged 13-18. They have locations in Minnesota, Texas and New York, and camp activities include canoeing, fishing, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and talent shows, as well as educational sessions on matters pertaining to the LGBT community.

Weekend/4-Day Camps

ASPYRE Camp: Greensboro, NC. A Safer Place for Youth to Reach for Excellence (ASPYRE) Leadership Camp is for middle-school and high-school LGBTQ and allied students to learn how to make a difference in their schools and communities through team-building activities and presentations. Due to donations, cost is only $25 per student.

Camp Eclipse: Newfoundland, CA. “Camp Eclipse: OUT in the Woods” takes a strength based, harm-reduction, and solution focused approach to the issues faced by lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGTQ) youth.” For youth 16-24, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Cost is $400, youth and families are asked to pay what they can. Minimum $25.

Camp Fyrefly. Canada. This camp  is a 3-4 day educational, social and personal learning retreat with camp locations in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon. Campers are lesbian, gay. bissexual, trans*, genderqueer, non-binary, two-spirit, queer, questioning, pansexual, asexual, and allied youth between the ages of 14 and 24.  “fYrefly is an acronym which stands for fostering, Youth, resilience, energy, fun, leadership, yeah!” There is a $25 app fee, and the fee for the camp is $300.  They will not turn anyone away because of financial need. It started in 2004.

Camp Ten Oaks: Canada. “a one-week, sleep-away camp for children and youth ages 8-17 from LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, queer) identities, families and communities.” Activities include sports, waterfront activities, hiking and nature exploration, as well as social justice discussions. Special theme days and surprise guests are also part of the camp itinerary. $750 per camper, subsidies available. Founded in 2004.

TYEF Youth Retreats: Weekend retreats in the summer and fall in a confidential New England location. TYEF retreats focus on providing a space for trans and gender non-conforming kids aged 7-17 (or till end of HS) to socialize, have fun, and participate in a variety of traditional camp activities like swimming, kayaking, archery, arts and more.  Cost: $200 a camper, partial and full scholarships available.

The Youth Project: This camp is located in Nova Scotia and has two 4-day long camps.

Camp Coyote is for trans-identified and gender-questioning youth age 25 and under, providing a safe space and an opportunity to meet new ppl and engage in activities like “trans-health discussions, campfires, scavenger hunts, swimming, arts & crafts, resources, and more!” $25 dollar deposit required.

Camp Seahorse is for LGBTQP-identified youth and straight allies aged 25 and under, providing a fun place to be free of homophobia. “Activities include: writing, arts & crafts, scavenger hunts, support & discussion groups, resources, campfires, ghost stories, swimming, and much more.” $25 deposit at the beginning of camp.

Camp OutDoors:  Based in Phoenix and Prescot, AZ. “Out of the Closet and Into the Woods.” This is a 4-day camp for LGBTQ youth, aimed at helping them build leadership skills, work collaboratively, and create community. “Camp activities vary and evolve each year and range from educational workshops on topics like “LGBTQ History” and “Non- Violent Communication” to community activities like our 250 person drum circle, horseback riding, and zip-lining.” Tuition for non-AZ residents is $400, and camp is free for AZ residents, however there are only 120 spots available to AZ campers.

Southeastern Queer Youth Activist Camp: South, different location each year. Queer Youth Leading The South (GYLTS) Camp is for LGBTQ youth 14-23, bringing them together to learn how to create change in their schools and communities.

Welcome Friend Association’s Rainbow Camp: Summer camp located in Northern Ontario for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer questioning, and allied (LGBTQA) youth, their siblings and children in Queer families, aged 13-17. Traditional camp activities as well as workshops that focus on gender, sexuality, health, community, leadership, and creating safe spaces. $275, scholarships and travel funds available if needed.

Music and Art Based Camps: 

Queer Rock Camp: Olympia and Seattle, WA. “Empowering youth and building community through music.” Music camp for queer youth aged 12-21.  Campers learn how to play musical instruments, write songs, and perform while also participating in social justice workshops.  Camp ends with a public showcase. Open to all youth regardless of funding. Estimated cost of tuition for each student is $400, and families are asked to donate what they can towards this cost to help keep the camp free and open to everyone.

Queer Rock Camp So Cal: Music Camp for LGBTQ and allied youth 12-21. Inspired by Girls Rock and Queer Rock Camp WA. Campers build community through music and will attend “educational workshops and skill shares to amplify confidence, creativity and self-expression.”

QORDS: Haw River Summit, NC. “A Queer-Oriented Summer Camp”. A 5-night/6-day camp where campers get instrument instruction, learn song-writing skills, and how to work in groups in preparation for a performance at the end of camp. Open to queer and gender non-conforming  youth or youth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQQIA) families, aged 12-17.  Campers will also attend workshops on “queer heroes, social justice, consent, gender” and also participate in traditional camp activities like dance, archery, hiking, rock-climbing, and campfires.  Founded in 2012, inspired by Queer Rock Camp of WA. $50 dollar deposit required. Tuition is $650, installment plans available, as well as financial aid.

Dreams of Hope Queer Youth Arts Qamp:   Pittsburg, PA. An arts camp for queer and allied youth aged 13-19 with workshops/classes on improv, activist action, song-writing, call and response, and more! $500, sliding scale based on need, and scholarships also available.

Sports Camps:

YOU Belong: Sports camp for LGBTQ Youth aged 15-21 years old. Learn athletic skills, meet professional athletes, and have fun. [application indicates the focus might be on football]. This year’s camp will be in New Jersey.

For College Students: 

Camp Pride, is a camp organized through Campus Pride. This is a leadership academy. for undergraduates with a social justice focus and emphasis on learning leadership and organizing skills. There is a separate track for faculty/advisers called Adviser Boot Camp.  Tuition costs $845 with early bird registration, and $995 after that. Full and partial scholarships available on limited basis. In 2015 camp was held in Asheville, NC.

T*Camp: An InterCampus Retreat for Trans/Genderqueer & Gender Questioning Students. California.  This is a 3-day retreat for college students from different campuses to discuss gender and learn from each other. Cost: $140.

UMD’s Queer Camp: This is specific to University of Maryland, and is a weekend retreat for LGBTQ students to do team-building activities, discuss identity, and create community. First year students are especially encouraged to attend. Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, though mostly caters to undergraduates.  Cost: $35.

Spirituality-Based Camps/Retreats:

Wonderfully Made Camp. Located in Philadelphia, this is a weekend retreat for 9th-12th graders who identify as LGBTQI or as an ally. “The idea is to recognize each of the attendee’s individual differences and strengths while also celebrating “God’s welcome” to all people.”

Spiritual Pride Project: “Spiritual Pride Project (SPP) exists to create a welcoming and safe community for youth and young adults of all sexual orientations and gender identities to experience and share spirituality, community and acceptance.”  This camp is for LGBTQIA people aged 12-30, applications are divided between 12-17 yr olds, and 18-30 year olds. Allies aged 14-25 are also welcome.  Located in Texas, the 2015 retreat was a weekend in March.

The Naming Project: Minnesota. Camp for youth aged 14-18 (or who have completed 8th-12th grade) who want to explore gender and sexuality in relation to their spirituality. 2015 Theme: Nothing can keep us from the Love of God. Typical camp activities of canoeing, swimming, campfire songs, hiking, along with bible study, worship and reflection time. $300 for the 5 days, scholarships available.

Camps for Children of LGBT Parents: 

Camp Highlight: Located in Wernersville, PA at a 600-acre camp facility. A week-long summer camp for children  (8-15) of LGBT parents, where kids get to meet others like themselves, and build a strong support network. The camp curriculum focuses on the “universal virtues of peace, respect, honesty, acceptance, unity, generosity, responsibility, courage, and cooperation.” Camp activities include hiking, swimming, fishing, mountain boarding, arts and crafts and more.  Tuition is $869, with a ten percent discount for siblings, and there is financial assistance available.

Camp Ten Trees. Pacific Northwest. They have week-long summer camps for LGBTQA youth  aged 13-17 and for youth and children (aged 8-17) of LGBT and non-traditional families.  This camp is social justice-oriented, and along with the typical camp activities, the campers will engage in age-appropriate workshops that explore identity, oppression, social justice, and activism.  For select older campers, aged 16-17, there is a change to gain leadership skills through the LEAD camper program. Founded in 2001.

Welcome Friend Association’s Rainbow Camp: Summer camp located in Northern Ontario for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer questioning, and allied (LGBTQA) youth, their siblings and children in Queer families, aged 13-17. Traditional camp activities as well as workshops that focus on gender, sexuality, health, community, leadership, and creating safe spaces. $275, scholarships and travel funds available if needed.

For Families and Children to Attend Together

Camp Aranu’tiq is a part of Harbor camps, and hosts a family weekend for families of transgender and gender-non-conforming youth, as well as week-long overnight camps for kids 8-17.

Camp Born This Way: Southern Arizona.  A weekend-long camp for transgender and gender-creative children 5-16 and their families.  A place that is safe for all to express themselves, and for parents to find support. $50 a family. Scholarships available.

Camp it Up!:   Quincy, California. LGBT Family camp, with both summer and winter sessions.  Activities for both adults, tweens, teens, and children. Swim or float in the lazy river, learn new specialty art skills, tie-dye, participate in the carnival, and more fun activities. Sliding scale fees, and different cost depending on age. See here.  They celebrated their 25th year in 2014.

Keshmet Camp: near Yosemite. Jewish LGBT Family camp. “Adults spend the morning hiking, creating arts and crafts, and partaking in workshops. Meanwhile, our skilled counselors plan age-appropriate activities for the kids, ranging from boating on the lake for young children to facilitated dialogue about growing up with gay parents for the teens.” (Pink Spots)


TSER Camp List (Very comprehensive, easy to read chart). 

GLAAD 2014 list of camps 

Brave Trails 10 Best LGBTQ Summer Camps 

Double Rainbow photo by Dan Bush


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