In late February, many members of Outright Vermont attended the special membership meeting of the YWCA-VT – our partnering organziation for Camp Outright.  Every camper from Camp Outright becomes a member of the YWCA-VT & as part of this meeting, one of our youth board members & Camp Outright campers shared this letter with the full meeting, in response to the called agenda:

“Hello, everyone. My name is Patricia.

I am also a firm believer in everything the organization of the YWCA stands for. Everyone in this room has heard the mission statement of this organization, but I will repeat it: “YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”

Without a doubt, Camp Hochelaga follows this mission. I personally have never been a camper there, but from what I have heard, Hochelaga empowers every girl who goes to it. It allows girls to be their best selves, while teaching them important skills and promoting awareness for the larger world. Girls of all races can attend, and be treated equally. Everyone in this room, regardless of which side they are on, believes Camp Hochelaga should remain an important part of what this organization does.

However, I would also like to address some of the other things that this organization does. Specifically, I would like to address Camp Outright.

Camp Outright is a partnership between the YWCA and Outright Vermont, an organization with the goal of creating a safe space for youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities. It takes place at Camp Hochelaga, but it lasts only a week at the very end of the summer, when Camp Hochelaga would already be out of session. I attended Camp Outright last summer. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. There were youth of many races, gender identities, and ages. We were all equal in one-another’s eyes. There was no discrimination based on any kind of demographic; no youth had privilege over any other based simply upon who they were. We were all free to simply be ourselves.

This is exactly the type of thing that the YWCA strives to do. At Camp Outright, women were empowered, and racism was nonexistent. The ideas of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all human beings were most certainly promoted. Even just the existence of Camp Outright advocates for these ideas; a camp where youth, regardless of demographic, can go and simply be themselves in a way that they sometimes cannot even at home. Camp Outright is the only camp I’ve ever been to where I was out of the closet to my cabin-mates, knowing for certain that they would completely accept me for who I am. Camp Outright may also be one of the only camps that transgender youth (some of whom are women, who should not be forgotten or excluded simply because of the way they were born) can go to. This is empowerment of women. This is freedom and dignity for all. This, my friends, is the mission of the YWCA.”