Anne Kessler
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This past August, 37 people aged 2 to 59 gathered at Camp Artaban for five days for the first ever Queerest and Dearest Camp. Queerest and Dearest is an intergenerational Christian camp for LGBTQIA2S+ people and their families, whoever that may be – birth families, adoptive families, chosen families, extended families and of course, church families! Campers were Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Mormon, Jewish and Muslim, as well as people of no faith.

We spent our days doing traditional summer camp activities such as: boating, swimming, hiking, arts and crafts, archery, climbing and campfire (without an actual fire). We deepened our faith through; daily worship in Camp Artaban’s beautiful outdoor chapel, Queer bible study where we learned together about queer and trans theologies and shared our experiences as queer and trans Christians. We deepened our knowledge of how we too participate in systems which oppress, in particular, trans and non-binary people, people of colour, and indigenous people.

This amazing camp could not have happened without generous support for the Anglican Initiatives Fund, as well as individuals who donated over $3000 towards bursaries, and we particularly want to say thanks to the diocese of New Westminster and these individuals for their support.

My favourite part of camp was getting to be in a community of people who shared my experiences of being a Queer Christian, not just one part or the other, but both, together. This community was truly intergenerational, and supported parents and children in all parts of camp, but especially in worship. It modeled for me worship that truly included children in all ways. I’d like to share two other campers’ reflections on this camp experience:

Queerest and Dearest was incredibly transformative for me. As someone who attends a non-affirming church, it was very powerful and validating to be in fellowship with other LGBTQ+ followers of Christ and their families. As a city dweller, I also appreciated the opportunity to be in creation and worship joyfully outdoors in ways that welcomed the participation of my child and other campers of all ages! It was also a unique chance to authentically share the Good News with campers who weren’t from faith backgrounds, or who’d had a lapse in their spiritual practice.

This space was wonderful and nurturing for those who have been rejected because of who they are, or who've experienced spiritual abuse.

- Bunny, age 29

My kids are still all talking about it. Bex was so proud to share with his dad how he told HIS story.  He has this sense of pride over his transition story now. This was a week that my kids and I needed. A week to be around new friends, no secrets about Bex’s transition. Sharing love for our Heavenly Father. And a sense that we belong somewhere and were safe to be us.

- Kutrina, parent of 3

We are excited to grow camp next year, and hope you will consider supporting it!

IMAGES

  • Participants help make the sound of water during the reading of the Psalm
  • Dustin, aged 2 and Sidney  high-five
  • Participants returning from swimming at waterfront
  • All of the Camp’s Participants on the Chapel steps.  

Photos: Emily Ann Garcia