Building Community: Family Camp

Our Midwest Region Senior Manager writes about Family Camp – A
one-of-a-kind community building event for midwest LGBT families.
Events like these are our way of demonstrating that nobody has to
do it alone, your community is waiting.

“Mommy, can we come back to camp next weekend?” were the words
from my 4.5 year old twins, Avery & Stella, as we were driving
away from Camp One Heartland.  “I wish we could.”  I told
them.  “We can’t go back to camp the following weekend, but we
were going back next July.  This wasn’t the answer they were
looking for, but they were satisfied and really excited.

In addition to relocating this year’s Midwest Family Camp to Camp
One Heartland in Willow River, MN, we held our first Fall Family
Camp.  As we planned the event earlier this year, we weren’t
sure what to expect: will people attend camp in the Fall and will
the weather cooperate so we can enjoy the outdoors, were just two
of the questions we had when we planned our Fall Family Camp.  It
turns out that families will attend in the Fall – we sold out all
of the rooms and cabins, and the weather did cooperate so we were
able to enjoy everything that was planned.

Our Friday night arrival was chaotic for almost everyone: traffic
out of the Twin Cities was a nightmare! As we drove down the gravel
road towards the camp we saw 3 deer in the nearby field – it was
good to leave the city behind!

By dinnertime most families had arrived and were already
introducing themselves to their neighbors at the dinner table. 
After dinner we had a bonfire and made s’mores.  The weather was
perfect – there was a chill in the air, the fire kept us warm,
and the marshmallows provided a sticky mess for all of the

Saturday was a big day for everyone.  Camp One Heartland has a
climbing wall and brought an instructor to teach everyone how to
climb.  One by one children and moms climbed to the top of the
wall while others cheered them on.  It set the tone for a great
day.  During lunch we celebrated Bennett’s 7th
birthday with a chocolate cake provided by the staff at One

The afternoon was reserved for swimming and I was a little worried
because it was very overcast and 55 degrees.  Jill, our Camp
Director, told me they kept the cover on the pool the day before
and the temp was a warm 80 degrees.  I think almost all of the
kids swam, and few complained about  being cold.

That night after dinner, we held a family dance complete with
costumes from One Heartland’s drama department.  It was so fun
to watch the kids’ change in and out of costumes and dance with
one another.  During the dance we had an ice cream  and
popcorn.  My kids had no trouble falling asleep that night!

One of my favorite things about attending camp every year is seeing
the kids play together.  For some of our youth, this is one of the
few times they are able to be around their “Rainbow Families”
and not worry about people asking questions because they have two
moms/dads.  It’s so amazing to watch 35 children/youth play
together and include everyone (from 15 months to 17 years old). 
The older kids keep an eye on the younger kids while the younger
ones try to keep up with the games.  During a game of kick the
can/ghosts in the graveyard, a few of the older kids took the 3 and
4 year olds with them to hide and then helped them sneak in to kick
the can.  Everyone commented on how well the kids played together
and how they were all so inclusive.

Sunday was a beautiful day and several families took advantage of a
last minute canoe trip around the lake.  It was one of the most
beautiful times I have spent on a lake; the water was calm and the
trees were different shades of fall.

It was sad to leave such a great weekend with my kids and friends,
but I’m already looking forward to July 2012 when we can do it