On August 13, National Equality Action Team (NEAT) Executive Director Brian Silva arrived in the mountains of central Maryland to speak to over 60 LGBTQ+ and allied youth summer campers at Brave Trails as part of their Passion to Action program.
“When I received the invitation, I thought about how my life could have been different if I had a camp like this when I was younger. I had to say yes!” Brian said.
Originally started in Los Angeles as a response to the ever growing needs of local LGBTQ+ youth, this was the second year of their first East Coast camp. Brave Trails offers an environment of acceptance, guidance, and leadership for LGBTQ+ kids and teens in a way that other camps may not. Last year, the camp served served 214 campers in 30 states and from 9 countries, while also hosting their first Family Camp for LGBTQ+ parents and their children to come together with families like their own to learn and grow with each other.
Brian led the campers in a Queer Trivia game to learn about historical queer events that took place before Stonewall. He talked about how knowing our history was important as it showed that our fight for LGBTQ+ rights has been ongoing for a long time. “My favorite part of the visit was the free time afterwards I got to spend with the campers,” Brian said. “One camper, in particular, stood out when they shared how, as a gender nonconforming individual, they felt more free and accepted at Brave Trails than they had at other sleepover camps.”
According to recent studies, LGBTQ+ kids and teens face a 40% higher rate of suicide and are half as likely to report being happy as compared to their non-LGBTQ peers. So Brave Trails is not only a safe space for these kids to thrive and grow, but is vital to creating a sense of belonging and self-worth among these kids. NEAT was proud to be apart of making a safe and welcoming summer for these kids.