Rainbow Camp 2016

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Reflecting on Rainbow Camp Rev Doreen Sproule, Rainbow Camp Chaplin

It has been a week of recognizing much pain; hurt that these kids have experienced in families, amongst friends, at school, from community members and, perhaps worst of all, from the church. Words of judgment, condemnation and hatred.

For some who want to remain in the church, they are forced to live a lie; pretending to be something or someone they are not. For some, church is no longer an option. For some, their faith has been severely shaken. For some, their faith is gone.

Some have tried to ease the pain with alcohol and drugs. Most have considered or attempted suicide.

I struggled with my role there as chaplain – a representative of the church. Why would they want me there? Why would they want to listen to anything I had to say? Surely any words from me would fall on deaf ears. We decided, the staff and I, that a ministry of presence would work best. And so I was there to be with them – to eat with them, play games with them, learn and grow with them, laugh and cry with them. That, after all, is what scripture asks of us – to live in love as Christ loved us; to be imitators of God.

By the end of the week enough trust had developed that several of the kids opened up to me. There was talk of broken families, of illness, of fear and challenge, of church, of God, of death and suicide. One of them, near the end of the conversation, said, “If I go to heaven when I die, I want it to be just like Rainbow Camp.” It was a comment that touched me deeply and has stayed with me. What was it that made Rainbow Camp so heaven-like?

This is what I saw:
· They knew from the get-go that they were welcome and accepted just as they were.
· There was no judgment.
· There were no questions to be answered; no explanations needed.
· There were no creeds or doctrines they were expected to believe in or say.
· They could all be different with no need to conform.
· They were like family – for some the family they wished they could have beyond camp.
· They were loved and cared for.
· They were nourished and fed.
· It was a safe place, a beautiful place, a place where they could have fun and be kids.
· It was a place where they could learn and grow, even while dealing with the tough stuff.
· It was a place where mistakes could be made and repentance and forgiveness happened.
· It was a place where they could challenge themselves; being encouraged and supported.
· It was a place where they could form relationships – make friends in a healthy way.
· It was a place where transformation happened.

It’s all that we claim we want the church to be – and yet it isn’t. I have never heard anyone compare church to heaven. Maybe Rainbow Camp was what the church should be, with my role as minister being a whole lot different – imitating God, loving as Christ loved us – not in word and doctrine, but in body – in flesh and blood, in love and healing, in hope and salvation so that all kids might experience heaven here on earth.

It wasn’t easy, but it most certainly was great.

  • There was no judgment.

Ah a power point right to the spot ... like a nerve end for those not dead to the fact that humanity really knows so little to rush judgement!
Vincent will be working at camp this summer - yes!!!!https://www.sudbury.com/…/sudbury-transgender-support-group

Is this the guy?
Rainbow Camp’s new Camp Director, Anne Thomson, is passionate about the outdoors and has been involved in the LGBTQ rights movement since her teens.

For the past nine years Anne has worked as a high school teacher at the Pine River Institute, a residential treatment centre for youth with addictions. She recently earned her Masters of Social Work with a focus on adolescent mental health. She has led wilderness expeditions for youth involved in the criminal justice system and facilitates workshops on topics of equity and oppression in schools and community-care settings.

Anne enjoys live music and growing food but spends most of her spare time explaining to her almost-two-year-old (who will be coming to camp too!) that he can’t ride his bicycle while he takes a bath.
Great opportunity that such camps provide - thanks Welcome Friend for all your effort.

There's a good article in The Observer this month about a similar initiative - "Out in the Wilderness" by Alison Brooks-Starks re a United Church camp in Saskatchewan for Trans kids. http://www.ucobserver.org/society/2016/05/out_wildnerness/

Awesome!!!!! Over half of our campers this year - so far - are trans!! There is a real need for camps like this.
We most likely will look at a camp for ages 8 to 12 for trans kids in 2017 - we have parents asking for a safe space.....for understanding and a place just to be.
We most likely will look at a camp for ages 8 to 12 for trans kids in 2017 - we have parents asking for a safe space.....for understanding and a place just to be.
Truly continuing the hard but rewarding task of doing g_d's work :3
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