This image, from the Camp Fyrefly website, shows some of the artwork that was created at a similar retreat held in Alberta. ((Camp Fyrefly))

A four-day leadership camp for gay and lesbian youth, aged 14 to 24, began Thursday at an undisclosed location in Saskatoon.

Camp Fyrefly is aimed at helping young people cope as they develop their identities during the challenging times of adolescence and young adulthood.

"It gave me a better idea of myself," Derrick Rachor, one of the camp leaders who has attended similar retreats in the past, told CBC News on Thursday. "It gave me a better self- definition."


'It gave me a better idea of myself.' —Derrick Rachor, Camp Fyrefly leader

Rachor, 19, participated in a Camp Fyrefly event in Edmonton, where the program originated in 2004.

The Saskatoon camp is the first ever held in Saskatchewan.

"The idea that Camp Fyrefly likes to promote is that everyone has their own toolbox that they can take to help them in their own lives as a support system," Rachor said about the experience he hopes to impart to youth.

40 participants

Saskatoon's camp has registered 40 participants from across the province, along with some from Ontario, Alberta and B.C. The exact location was kept confidential for safety and security reasons, organizers said.

Herb McFaull, co-chair of the local co-ordinating committee for the retreat, said he hopes the participants will feel comfortable being with others sharing similar experiences.

"They maybe have never have had the opportunity in their entire lives to be in the majority and to feel safe and secure," McFaull said.

Organizers said young people who are gay, lesbian or still struggling with their identity suffer from higher-than-average rates of suicide, depression and poor self-esteem.