I promised a post about camp, and although it’s long overdue, I’m delivering.
Camp Brave Trails, which I attended for the full two weeks this summer, has changed my life for the (absolute) better. Connecting with so many people with different backgrounds but all sharing a love for the empowerment of the LGBTQ+ community was amazing, challenging, and beautiful. Without phones, I felt as if the camp connected as a whole and everyone became an even better, more educated and empowered leaders. I, for one, learned a lot even though I felt that I knew everything (such a teenager move of me).
This experience led me to think about this very blog post for the past 17 days. (That’s when I published my last one). So sitting by the pool in Hawaii, I realized that I need to do something with my new-found knowledge and all of the power that BT gave me. So I realized that I need to take what camp taught me and bring that into the world. (Make it like camp, right?) So here is my take on how to take Brave Trails back to school:
How to take Brave Trails Back to School (even if you weren’t there):
- Connect. I cannot stress how important connecting with people and listening to them and their stories is. Personally, this is how I learned the most at camp – through listening to other people’s experiences and how they deal, or have dealt, with them. We had a workshop called Social Entrepreneurship for both weeks, and the first week was focused on storytelling. Many brave people shared their stories there (for confidentiality’s sake, I can’t share the stories or the names of the people, but they were amazing), and each one changed me and helped me learn in different ways. Connecting with people that have changed you, love you, and care about you is important for your mental health (and probably theirs too). Bonus: It may help you grow as a person as well.
- Support. Support and connecting really relate to each other. Everyone needs to remember to support their friends, family, and community through tough times, weather it be personal or something bigger. At Brave Trails, there was a nearly overwhelming sense of support, and each camper, counselor, and director showed extreme compassion for each other. I know that if I had a problem, I could’ve definitely gone to anyone and they would’ve helped me out.
- Be vulnerable (it’s okay to cry). This one starts with a more of a personal story. The first few days at camp were rough for me because I wasn’t used to being in an environment with so many kind people that truly were there to support and empower each other. Besides that, I did miss some people that I had been talking to and – not going to lie – I just really wanted to cry for the first few days. I hated crying, especially in front of people. I talked to one of my cabin counselors, and she assured me that it’s okay to cry and that no one would judge me for it. Although this may not be the case in the “real” world, the comfort of everyone saying, “it’s okay to feel what you feel” was what I needed. So I cried. I cried a lot; there were happy tears, overwhelmed tears, sad tears, and it was all okay. I stay with the fact that it’s okay to cry, and everyone should always feel free to feel what they feel.
- Empower (yourself and encourage others around you). You can change the world. There are no buts, ifs, or ands. Empowering yourself, saying that you can and you will is so, so important. Reminding others of that is important as well. Brave Trails is a leadership camp. There, we did learn how to empower ourselves (further), especially within the LGBTQ+ community. Stand up for what you believe in and never give up. (Be relentless!)
- Slay. No joke: you are queen (or king, or whatever fits). You are in control of yourself and your life. You can do it. You don’t need to conform, and you can be quirky and unique in your own special way. You don’t need to care about what others will think of you, because those that care about you will be right there slaying with you.
I hope everyone (especially my Brave Trails family) liked this post and that you bring Brave Trails – not only back to school – but everywhere you go. This was my personal list to keep in the back of my mind, and there were so many points that I wanted to add but I wanted to keep this post short and sweet. Thank you all for reading this, you’re all beautiful people.
Your Queer Queen ♥
P.S. – Be brave!