We welcome all LGBTQ+ youth and allies, ages 12-18, to apply for camp. Our camp is a hybrid between a traditional summer camp and a leadership institute, with a queer twist! Applicants should have an interest in growing as a leader and creating a more just world. We have campers who are shy, outgoing, confident leaders, new in their leadership journey, sporty, glamorous, gamers, drag artists, all different body types and backgrounds… and more! There is no right or wrong way to be a Brave Trails camper.
Here are some things the camper should feel comfortable as well:
- A space that is LGBTQ+ centric and safe for campers to explore, question, and share thier idenitity.
- A highly social environment designed to promote peer-to-peer connections and mentorship between campers and staff. Campers have little alone time while at camp but there are times to rest and relax.
- A mix of loud, energetic spaces and quiet, mindful spaces. Campers should feel comfortable with loud music, the sounds of 100 campers cheering, and other boisterous sounds of camp. We are LOUD and PROUD as we like to say!
- A beautiful, rustic, outdoor setting. Being in nature is part of the camp experience. You can expect all of the joys of a forest setting, such as lush tree groves, creeks, mountains, bugs, critters, and the most beautiful sunsets.
- An electronics free environment. Unplugging = more friends and memories! That means phones, music players, laptops, gaming systems, and other electronics stay at home. Campers communicate with folks outside of camp via snail mail letters.
- Independence. At camp, campers spread their wings and make their own decisions and choices about what their days will look like and how they will show up.
- Daily leadership workshops and projects that both challenge the camper and help them grow. We explore real and deep subjects surrounding social justice, civil rights, and global injustice.
- A very high expectation of maturity, kindness, consent, and compassion.
If this sounds like the place for your camper, we can’t wait to see their application soon!
Still not sure? No problem. Give us a call or send us an email. We’re here to help.
Every camper will undergo our application and interview process before they are fomally accepted to camp. The purpose of this process is to get to know the camper and ensure they are ready to be in a leadership focused camp space. Our campers are interviewed and selected by a committee of staff and past campers.
Who can apply?
Anyone, ages 12-18, who identifies as an LGBTQ+ person, is questioning, or is an ally, is welcome to apply to attend Camp Brave Trails! We welcome campers from all over the country and internationally.
How can my camper prepare for the interview?
First, understand that Camp Brave Trails is more than just a typical summer camp. While we have many aspects of a typical summer camp and we have TONS of fun, our campers work hard, too. Start by thinking about what this means to you and how you are or hope to be a leader in your community.
Our interview committee looks for campers of all leadership levels and diverse backgrounds who have an interest in making their community and the world a better place. We want to know what makes you excited about attending an LGBTQ+ specific camp and what you hope to do with the leadership skill you gain at camp.
We know that the interview can make some campers a bit nervous and that’s okay! Being nervous means the camper cares. It’s also okay to not be nervous. We want campers to be their authentic self and do their best on the interview. Parents/caregivers do not need to be on the interview with the camper, but be sure they are nearby as the interviewer will want to speak with them about some logistics.
Bunking & Lodging
Campers stay in bunk style cabins along with 8-10 peers from the same age group and two adult counselors for support and safety. We divide campers into cabin groups by age; we never divide campers by gender. There are plenty of bathrooms and showers, complete with privacy for maximum comfort.
We know that a camper’s experience in their cabin has a huge impact on their time with us. Our staff intentionally work to create a nurturing, homey, and festive environment where new and returning campers can easily bond and create lifelong friendships!
All meals and snacks are included in tuition. Our kitchen staff takes pride in delivering nutritious meals that keep our campers and staff going throughout the day. Campers enjoy three balanced meals per day, along with snacks and special treats! We gladly accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free diets, but require proper notice for appropriate planning. If your camper has a serious food allergy or aversion that you feel may impact their camp experience, please call a director to discuss further. We’re here to help!
Breakfast: Pancakes, sausage (chicken or veggie), fruit & yogurt bar, and orange juice. Every morning we have a cereal bar, milk, and a fruit assortment available.
Lunch: Veggie & turkey paninis, soup, and a salad bar is available every day.
Dinner: Tacos (veggie & chicken) with all the toppings, rice, beans, and a salad bar is available for dinner every evening. For dessert, churros!
Snack: Granola Bars and fruit.
We have camps on both the West and East Coast!
Our California camp is located just outside of Los Angeles, California, in the pines of the Angeles National Forest. Campers enjoy a gorgeous, forest based campsite under the trees and alongside our beautiful running creek.
Our Maryland camp is located in the historic Catoctin Mountains of western, MD. Our campers love the quintessential east coast feel and lush green campsite.
For our camper’s safety, we only release the exact address of our campsites to registered families.
Having a knowledgeable, passionate, diverse, nurturing, and super fun staff is our secret sauce! Our directors dedicate a lot of time and energy to assembling a multifaceted group of professionals to carry out our mission and give our campers the summer of a lifetime.
Every staff member at camp has undergone an extensive application, interview, and background check process. Our staff undergo a mandetory, rigorous onsite safety training before campers arrive at camp. Our team is complete with medical staff, therapists, lifeguards, teachers, working professionals, and many more experienced professionals. The average age of our staff is 27, which we are proud of as the national average age for summer camps staff is typically 20. Many staff members return to camp each summer from all around the country and even internationally.
Want to get to know our Camp Directors? CLICK HERE
Dates, Rates, and Financial Assistance
To learn more about our dates, rates, and financial assistance, CLICK HERE.
We are proudly accredited by the American Camp Association and part of the Western Association of independent camps.
We know our LGBTQ+ youth deserve to have a top of the line summer camp experience. This is why we have committed to being a fully accredited summer camp since day one of operating. The American Camp Association (ACA) accreditation process is a commitment by camps to the highest standards of health, safety, and program quality. This means we meet over 250 standards in health, safety, staffing, training, and transportation, which are verified and inspected by the ACA on a regular basis.
The Western Association of Independent Camps (WAIC) is an organization of summer camp owners and directors, dedicated to operating excellent youth programs. On top of American Camp Association accreditation, WAIC offers us the opportunity to collaborate with independent camps across the country to ensure we are going above and beyond the status quo in providing a quality camp experience.
We offer many convenient ways to get your camper to and from camp. Families can choose to:
- Drive their camper directly to/from camp.
- Sign up for our airport bus to/from LAX & BWI.
- Take the bus to/from camp from one of our bus pick-up/drop-off locations around the city.
More information on transportation and signing up for these options will be in your camper handbook.
Medical & Mental Health at Camp
There is nothing we care about more than our campers health and safety while at camp. We have 1-3 medical professionals on site at all times. Our health team provides basic care and first aid to campers and staff throughout their stay with us. Our health team takes pride in caring for our campers in a nurturing and LGBTQ+ competent way. All campers must have health insurance to attend camp.
If your camper has over-the-counter (allergy, pain medication, Tums, etc.) or prescription medications, they must be checked in with our medical staff during drop-off at camp. Our medical team will distribute medications directly to the camper in accordance with the medication distribution schedule in the campers medical forms.
What if my child has a disability?
We want to do whatever we can to accommodate campers with different ability levels, to the extent possible with our resources. The campsite we rent is rustic, mountainous, and not ADA accessible, we hope to have a more accesable campsite in the future. In most cases, if the camper can perform all essential functions on their own, it will likely be safe for your camper to attend camp. All campers should be able to do the following unassisted by staff: eating, bathing, dressing/undressing, following directions, and getting around our hilly, rustic, forest-based campsite. We are happy to offer accommodations, such as ensuring the camper has a bottom bunk, modifications during activities, and other helpful adjustments within our capability.
If your child has a disability, please contact a director before applying for camp to discuss so we can be as prepared as possible to welcome your campers and make their stay with us comfortable and of course, fun! We find that the more honest and detailed you can be with our staff ahead of time, the better the camper’s time at camp will be. We’re excited to work with you!
Mental Health at Camp
We always have an LGBTQ+ knowledgeable, licenced mental health professional on site to offer supportive conversations (not therapy) to campers who need a little extra TLC, such as homesickness support and other mild emotions that may come up at camp. Also, our counselors are great at pep-talks and lending an empathetic ear as needed.
While being at camp can be a therapeutic and joyful experience, we are NOT a therapy camp. Campers should be in a stable emotional and mental state when they arrive at camp. Keep in mind that regardless of the positive and empowering nature of camp, it is an emotionally and physically demanding experience. That said, we are a very mental health positive space and many campers who experience anxiety, depression, or dysphoria do super well at camp. We encourage campers to bring their medication and (non-electronic) coping skills to camp. We just want to make sure the camper is in a steady and ready state so we can set them up for success at camp!
If the camper shows signs of or is experiencing high levels of unstable mental concerns, emotional distress, and/or has a known serious mental disorder, please contact a director to discuss before applying and together we can assess if our camp is the right fit for your camper at this time. We ask that campers who have been hospitalized for mental health concerns wait a full year before applying for camp to ensure they are ready for the ups and downs of camp. Camp Brave Trails should never be used as a tool or replacement for mental health care.
International & Out of State Campers
We gladly welcome international and out of state camper! In 2019, we welcomed campers from 32 different states and 9 countries. Having campers and staff members from all over the world makes our camp even more diverse and exciting.
We offer pick-up and drop-off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Baltimore Washington Airport (BWI), during select times. Registered campers should consult their campers handbook for more details before booking flights.
We require all international campers to have a valid passport and travelers health insurance. We do not offer assistance for flights or accommodations outside of camp.
Refund & Payment Policy
We understand that unforeseen changes can happen at any time and as such, this refund and payment policy ensures a transparent agreement between Brave Trails and the applicant, as well as their parent/legal guardian. Keep in mind that while camp starts in the summer for campers, our staff works all year long to plan and ensure campers have a safe, fun, and well organized camp experience, including: admissions, pre-camp administrative work, camp supply purchasing, staff vetting/hiring/training, program planning, meal planning, and much more. We start ordering supplies and hiring staff members for your camper as early as January. As such, this policy ensures a clear and fair outcome of what will follow if your camper needs to drop out of camp at any point.
All applications must be accompanied by a $100 non-refundable deposit toward each camper’s tuition. The deposit will be charged upon the camper’s official acceptance to camp. Credit card and debit card are the two forms of payment accepted by Camp Brave Trails, unless you are paying the entire amount of tuition upfront within one month of acceptance to camp or are an international camper paying with a money order. Families may choose one of two payment options upon acceptance to camp:
- Pay in full within one month of acceptance to camp.
- Monthly Auto-Pay Payment Plan – Payments will be automatically charged to your primary card on file on the first of every month until June 1, 2021.
50% of tuition is due by April 15, 2021 and the full tuition amount is due by June 1, 2021. Any balance on the camper’s account on April 15, 2021 and June 1, 2021 will be automatically charged on these dates to the primary card on file. Failure to make payments on these dates will result in the loss of the campers spot and the camper will need to re-apply to camp if they still wish to attend. If you are having trouble making your payments, please communicate with a Brave Trails director at least 72 hours before the payment due date(s) and we will do our best to work with you.
If you need to cancel your camper’s enrollment at any point, you must notify Coby Pfaff at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Brave Trails Camp Office at email@example.com, in writing via email with the following understanding:
– Prior to February 1, 2021 all tuition payments are refundable, minus the $100 non-refundable deposit.
– Cancellations on or after February 1, 2021 will incur a $250 administrative fee.
– Cancellations on or after March 1, 2021 will incur a $450 administrative fee.
– Cancellations on or after April 1, 2021 will incur a $650 administrative fee.
– Cancellations on or after May 1, 2021 will incur a $850 administrative fee.
– Cancellations on or after June 1, 2021 are non-refundable.
There will be no fee reduction, allowances, refunds, rebates or reimbursement for absences from camp due to illness, injury, homesickness, dismissal from camp, voluntary withdrawal, no-show, late arrival, family emergencies, vacation, summer school, unexpected visits or events, unhappiness with the program, or for any other reason. There will be no fee reduction or reimbursement for changes in programming on our part. All decisions to change programming are made with the best interest of the camper’s safety and experience in mind.
In the event that the camper is dismissed, removed, or leaves camp early for any reason (poor behavior, homesickness, illness, injury, unhappiness with the program, etc.), the camper’s parent or legal guardian is 100% financially responsible for any cost associated with exiting the camper from camp within 24 hours. The family is 100% responsible for arranging transportation, purchasing tickets (plane, bus, train etc.), and costs associated with pick-up & drop-off (airport drop-off, taxi, etc). If a Brave Trails staff member is available to provide transportation to the airport for early departure, there is a $150 staffing & mileage fee (to be paid before the ride is given), though this service will not be available for summer 2021 due to social distancing guidelines.
If Camp Brave Trails directors or the local health department decide that we are not able to run camp, not able to run your camper’s specific session, or must run at a lower capacity, the camper’s parent/legal guardian will have the option to rollover their tuition to the next summer or donate their tuition to our financial assistance fund, minus the $100 non-refundable deposit. The Brave Trails refund policy will still apply. Changes like these are rare but possible.