Is Camp Brave Trails the right fit for my camper?
We know that attending an LGBTQ+ specific leadership camp is life changing for many of our young people. That said, we also know that our camp is not for everyone. Here are some things to expect at our camp so you can decide if our space is a good fit for your camper.
At Camp Brave Trails you will find:
- All types of campers! 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.
- 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, bugs, critters, creeks, mountains, and the most beautiful sunsets.
- An electronics free environment. Unplugging = more friends and memories! That means phones, music players, gaming systems, and other electronics stay at home.
- 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 injustice.
- A space that is safe and respectful of questioning and exploring your identity.
- 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.
What should I expect with the application process?
Every camper that attends camp goes through our application and interview process before being accepted to the program. 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.
How is bunking done at camp?
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 identity/expression. There are plenty of bathrooms and showers, complete with privacy for maximum comfort.
We know that a camper’s experiences 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!
How is the food at camp?
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.
Where is camp located?
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.
Who are the staff?
Having a knowledgeable, diverse, and super fun staff is our secret sauce! We know that hiring an amazing staff means our campers have an amazing summer! Our directors dedicate a lot of time and energy to assembling a multifaceted group of professionals to serve at BT staff members. We choose dedicated, passionate, creative, and nurturing mentors who have a great interest in helping youth become confident LGBTQ+ leaders.
Every staff member at camp has undergone an extensive application, interview, and background check process. Our staff undergo a rigorous on-site 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 camp staff is 20. Many staff members return to camp each summer from all around the country and even internationally.
Is there financial assistance if I can't afford the full tuition?
We believe that every LGBTQ+ young person deserves the opportunity to have an affirming summer camp experience and lack of finances shouldn’t be a barrier.
Our team works extremely hard to fundraise all year round to ensure our scholarship fund is robust. This past summer, we proudly awarded $67,000 in camperships to over 80 campers in need, thanks to generous donors and foundation grants.
Our scholarships are awarded on a first come, first serves and needs basis. This means you want to apply as soon as possible. Typically our aid runs out within 1-3 months of opening applications. Additionally, we offer great fundraising tools, which many of our campers have raised their full tuition cost with!
How do I apply for financial aid?
The financial aid application is part of the general camp application. Please fill out the camp application and the financial aid form fully. Once received, our staff will determine your eligibility for aid. Campership amounts are determined based on your household income, family need, and what we have available.
We do not give any fully “free weeks”, only partial scholarships. Brave Trails does NOT assist with airfare, hotel stays, or any accommodations outside of camp.
Is Camp Brave Trails an accredited camp?
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.
How does transportation work to and from camp?
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.
Do you have medical staff 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. Anything beyond basic care and first aid will be directed to the nearest urgent care facility or hospital. 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 and keeping in mind that the campsite we rent is rustic, mountainous, and not ADA accessible. 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 reason.
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.
Is there mental health support at camp?
The short answer is no and yes.
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!
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.
Campers should be prepared and excited for loud, energetic, and highly social environments, with little alone time. If the camper is uncomfortable with any of this, our camp is likely not the best fit but we can offer other suggestions of camps that may be a better fit. Additionally, Camp Brave Trails is a leadership focused program and much of what we discuss revolves around social justice and activist related subjects. Campers should be aware that we do discuss topics related to mental health, race, body image, environmentalism, injustice, LGBTQ issues, and other related topics. Campers who are distressed or uninterested in such topics may have a hard time at camp and should talk to a director before applying to discuss.
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 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.
Have more questions or what to discuss further? Please contact a director.
Do you accept international and out of state campers?
Absolutely! Last summer 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.
What is the refund policy?
Please check back one summer camp 2021 dates are posted for our updated refund policy.