Among the new programs at YMCA Cape Cod at Camp Lyndon is Camp Firefly, a safe, inclusive, and welcoming camp environment for youth ages 11 through 16 self-identifying as LGBTQ+.
Offering a mix of traditional summer camp activities with programs and activities geared towards LGBTQ+ youth, Camp Firefly offered its campers opportunities to meet, learn from, and connect with local LGBTQ+ adults, including state Sen. Julian Cyr.
“When we started to talk about designing the daily program, we wanted to make sure there was a good balance in the type of programing we offered. Our campers still participate in typical Camp Lyndon programs like boating, the ropes course, and archery, but we also have open discussions, guest speakers, and programs just for them.” said Amy Kerr, Camp Director for Camp Firefly. Additional programs included a color party, gender euphoria fashion show, and repainting the arts and crafts shed at Camp Lyndon.
To help connect campers with LQBTQ+ adults campers were joined throughout the week by guest speakers. Cyr, who serves as the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion, has been an advocate for LGBTQ+ issues at the State House and spent an hour with campers answering questions, sharing experiences, and talking about growing up on Cape Cod.
“It was wonderful and fantastic to get to spend an hour with these campers. I’m excited and grateful that the Y is pursuing this kind of program to support LGBTQ+ youth.” Cyr said.
Camp Firefly is the result of two years of planning and consulting with community partners, led by Program Director of Camps, Tom Brognano and Camp Director, Amy Kerr. Community partners like Thrive at CIGSYA, PFLAG Cape Cod, and the guidance departments of Barnstable, Dennis-Yarmouth, and Bourne high schools were instrumental in helping the YMCA reach and connect with this audience.
“I think one of the biggest take aways has been hearing the campers say ‘We can be ourselves here. We’re not hiding.’ For many of these campers they’ve never had an opportunity to meet other LGBTQ+ youth in person like this. They’re really enjoying the ability to make personal connections, not just talk online” said Kerr.