Camp for gay teens to run Calgary-area retreat
For a decade, gay teens from across the country have sought the refuge of Camp Fyrefly in Edmonton.
It's among a handful of summer camps designed for teens with diverse sexual orientations In Canada.
Now, for the first time, organizers are bringing the camp to the Calgary area.
Kristopher Wells researches sexuality at the University of Alberta and is the founder of the camp.
He says, for some campers, Fyrefly is the first time in their lives they feel accepted.
"We're talking about for many young people in their communities, that can't count on their families or their school to support and protect them. This becomes an oasis for four days — we create a world free from fear and abuse," said Wells.
"The youth have said, ‘for the first time in my life I no longer had to be afraid.’"
One year, said Wells, a boy took a 16-hour bus ride from his remote town to get to camp.
Yet another flew in from the northern N.W.T.
"That particular youth told their family they were going to hunting camp."
This summer, Calgary high school student Elise Hassel will pack her rainbow-beaded suitcase and head to Camp Fyrefly for the third time. This time, just outside her city.
"There aren't very many people who truly get what it's like coming out -- at camp, it's everybody," said Hassel.
Camp Fyrefly is almost entirely subsidized through fundraising and sponsors. Campers pay just $25.
This summer, Fyrefly will take place in Cochrane in July.
The camp also runs in Saskatchewan.