‘Camp’ Camp: The Who, Where, What, When, and Why YOU Should Be Attending
As you all know we like to get to the bottom of everything (no pun intended) so we reached out to our friends at 'Camp' Camp to get the inside scoop! Here is all the deets from our good friend Kerry Riffle, owner and director of the camp.
What sets 'Camp' Camp apart from other events of its type?
‘Camp’ Camp is one of the most unique GLBT vacations in the country. We are structured just like a sleep-away summer for kids (in fact, we lease an actual summer camp facility in southwestern Maine to host Camp), except that the attendees are all adults 21 and over. After that, our other unique factor is the demographics of the GLBT community that ‘Camp’ Camp attracts. First, unlike many other gay events or vacation destinations, Camp is not geared primarily towards just men or just women: we are truly “gender neutral” in that we attract almost equal numbers of both men AND women to the same event. And, believe it or not, we all play very well together and have great fun!
Our Campers & Staff are all ages - so far our attendees for 2012 range in age from 21 to 74 – and come from all over the country. It truly is a great mix of people of all genders who don’t care how old you are or what you do for a living or any of the stuff that sometimes seems to be of great importance at other gay events. If you want a vacation where you’ll have a great time just relaxing, laughing, and playing like a kid again with fun GLBT people of all ages from all over the country, then Camp is the vacation you’ve been looking for!
What about this year's Camp makes it bigger and better than last year's?
This will be our 16th summer, and each has been amazingly fun in its own way. Our Campers always tell us that it’s the great people they meet at Camp that make it so fun – and why they tend to come back year after year. With about 75% of our Campers & Staff returning year after year, we have a great core group of folks who make up the Camp community – and they love meeting and welcoming newcomers into such a fun, unique experience. We obviously haven’t met all the new people who will be attending this year yet, but if they are anything like our returning or past Campers, Camp 2012 will once more surprise everyone with just how much fun they’ll have.
How does this event reflect the LGBT culture of the community it is held in?
‘Camp’ Camp is really more a melting pot of the GLBT community than a direct reflection of the area in southwestern Maine where we all gather each August. From 20-something year old gay men and lesbians active in their campus’ GLBT organizations to 30-something urban professionals to long-term gay and lesbian couples in their 50s hailing from the Midwest, the GLBT community and culture represented at Camp is quite rich and diverse.
What should guests expect from this year's event?
Those attending ‘Camp’ Camp next month can be guaranteed a full week’s worth of fun and challenging outdoor, athletic, and arts & crafts activities paired with fun evening social events in a gorgeous location with over 200 fun and welcoming GLBT folks from all over the country. It sincerely is like no other vacation out there. At Camp, you are offered the flexibility to enjoy a vacation that you can tailor to your own personal tastes and specifications. So, if you are looking for an active, eventful vacation, we have plenty to keep you busy, from volleyball games & clinics to hiking to a climbing wall to canoeing and lake swimming. If you are just looking for a relaxing, do-nothing week, we have a have a beautiful waterfront where you can come hang out all week, taking the occasional break from being lazy to throw some clay in our pottery studio or hammer out a ring in a jewelry class. And it all happens with 200+ friends you didn’t even know you had!
What is the history of this event?
‘Camp’ Camp was founded by a gentleman named Bill Cole just a couple of months after he came out at age 49 in 1996. His goal was to create a safe place for gay and lesbian adults (he didn’t know then about bi, transgender, and queer people, so the “BT” was added later) to enjoy the out-of-doors and a variety of activities just like the summer camps he wanted to like, but was never comfortable in, when he was a kid himself. He simply wanted to give people the luxury of time and the chance to get beyond first appearances to the possibility of real friendship.
The first year of ‘Camp’ Camp, in 1997, 88 people attended – this in the days before most people had email and Facebook’s founder was in high school – and about two-thirds of them were part of the Camp staff! In 2006, Kerry Riffle and Susan Clinkenbeard took over as Camp’s Owners/Directors, with Betsy Orr subsequently replacing Susan as Owner & Associate Director in 2009. Since 1997, Camp has grown into an anticipated, one-of-a-kind yearly event hosting as many as 250 GLBT folks from all over the U.S. and Canada.
How has this event impacted the local and broader LGBT community?
Since its inception, Camp has grown into a community of people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or somewhere in between, who enjoy a variety of social, athletic and cultural activities together throughout the year. While ‘Camp’ Camp itself is our flagship event, social networking sites such as Facebook have made it easier than ever for the Camp community to come together for other smaller events throughout the year.
Whether it’s dinner and a Broadway show in Manhattan, Sunday brunch in Los Angeles, or a relaxing afternoon amble through the woods of Massachusetts, Camp offers participants an opportunity to be part of a network of fun and friendly GLBT men and women from all over the U.S. and Canada who come together throughout the year to enjoy the company of the fun friends they made while having the best time ever during one late-summer week in Maine.
More information about this year's 'Camp' Camp, visit their website. 'Camp' Camp is from August 18-26!