inquiring minds may want to know…
How did Camp Ten Oaks get started?
The Ten Oaks Project was co-founded by Holly and Julia Wagg in April of 2004. Holly and Julia noticed a huge gap in services for the children and youth of the LGBTQ+ community (there was nothing in Ottawa at the time) and decided to take action.
Holly and Julia, along with their dog Gus, started a not-for-profit charitable organization called the Ten Oaks Project to develop programming for children and youth of LGBTQ+ identities, families and communities. Camp Ten Oaks is one of the programs to grow out of this vision.
Where did the names “Ten Oaks Project” and “Camp Ten Oaks” come from?
When conducting a community-wide survey between April and August of 2004 to see if there was a need for a camp program for the LGBTQ+ community, the name Ten Oaks Project was whipped up:TEN (a number that plays with the idea that 1 in 10 people are LGBTQ+)+ OAKS (a strong tree that hints at the idea of camp and outdoors) + PROJECT (so it made sense for the organization to run programming outside of camp).
Since camp is a program of the Ten Oaks Project, we opted to call it Camp Ten Oaks.
Who are children and youth of LGBTQ+ identities, families and communities?
The Ten Oaks Project defines children and youth of LGBTQ+ identities, families and communities as individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit and/or queer (LGBTQ+), have a(n) LGBTQ+ parent and/or guardian, and/or who broadly speaking, are connected in some way to LGBTQ+ communities (like having a sibling or relative that identifies as LGBTQ+).
Are there other camps like this?
Camp Ten Oaks is the first summer overnight camp of its kind in Canada for the children and youth of LGBTQ+ identities, families and communities. There are also a few similar camps offered in the United States.
What is the relationship between Mountain Meadow and Camp Ten Oaks?
Mountain Meadow (MM) was a two-week summer camp for the children of LGBTQ+ families that was founded in the early 1980s. Holly Wagg worked at MM for several summers and was inspired by the campers there to start a similar camp in Canada. The MM office was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the summer camp is run at a site in New Jersey.
In September 2004, MM partnered with the Ten Oaks Project and helped to set up this camp program. MM has provided invaluable advice and support to our project. Much of our organizational tools and programming models are drawn from Mountain Meadow, which has shared the benefits of its experience. MM closed its doors in 2010.
Where do campers come from?
The majority of campers who come to Camp Ten Oaks live in Ontario. Our two main catchment areas are Ottawa and Toronto, but we’ve had campers (and volunteers!) come from across Canada to participate in our programs.
What are JACs, MACs, IACs, SACs and OT roots & branches?
These are the names of the different cabin groups that we have at camp. When it comes to naming groups, sometimes it’s not all that easy!
The camp planning committee sat around for many meetings trying to decide what to call our different cabin groups. Until we could come up with something, we divided campers by “junior”, “middle”, “intermediate” and “senior”. And then at our first ever staff orientation, we began to refer to our campers as “acorns”. Combine all of that together, and, presto!
You get the JACs (junior acorn campers, ages 8-9), MACs (middle acorn campers, ages 10-11), IACs (intermediate acorn campers, ages 12-13), SACs (senior acorn campers, ages 14-15) and OT Program (oak tree roots and branches campers, ages 16-17).
What’s the Oak tree program about?
The Oak Tree Program is designed for youth aged 16-17 who have a love for camp but also want to build leadership skills that they can apply in their day-to-day lives. The Oak Tree Program allows campers to engage in a blend of activities designed to give them an understanding of the ins and outs of leadership, experiential learning opportunities, chances to explore social justice and some plain old fun! Special guests, camp staff, and participants themselves will share their talents and experiences, engage in an exchange of ideas, and grow as a community of leaders. The Program is an opportunity for participants to explore and grow their individual skills in all aspects of leadership.
It should also be noted that although presented with a unique opportunity to participate in many facets of the camp community, Oak Tree Program participants are not considered to be staff of Camp Ten Oaks.
Previously known as the Leadership Acorn Camper (LAC), the Program has expanded to meet the growing needs of campers! The program has a new name and two new specialized leadership streams: Roots and Branches!
- Working together to make contributions to the camp community as a group
- Focus on developing facilitation and event planning skills
- Opportunities to lead and plan activities as part of the camp program
- Developing leadership skills through experiential learning
- Working together to reflect on and define personal leadership styles
- Focus on developing personal awareness and group dynamic skills
- Opportunities to work with younger cabin groups and take on leadership roles
- Developing an understanding of your own leadership style through discussions, workshops and interactive reflection
- Go on an overnight camp-out
- Sleep in the same cabin
- Participate in camp-wide activities
- Assist with camp-wide activities
- Model leadership for younger campers
Where do campers sleep?
At night, campers will rest up in cabins for each of our age groups: JACs, MACs, IACs, SACs, and LACs. All campers sleep in age specific all-gender cabins.
What’s the difference between unit and choice activities?
Unit activities are activities scheduled to be done with a whole cabin group and choice activities are those that campers get to choose. When campers arrive for the week, they will be given an activity sheet and the opportunity to pick what they want to do.
Since programming is run by our staff, and the skill sets of our staff changes from year to year, we’re able to guarantee both old favourites and fresh programming each summer.
What’s a campout?
A campout is where all campers in a cabin group leave their comfy cabins and take a hike or a canoe ride to sleep overnight in a tent! We set up camp, cook dinner over a fire, sing songs and look at the stars. Campouts provide a real outdoor adventure experience.
What is social justice?
Social justice promotes human equality by recognizing the underlying conditions in our everyday lives that foster inequalities, a lack of opportunity or discrimination. Our social justice program comprises a series of age-appropriate activities that allow campers to explore one or two key issues while at camp. In order to promote understanding and respect across different groups, we acknowledge the dynamics of power and privilege and the role these play in creating attitudes, behaviors and practices that support systems of exclusion and oppression.
When will Camp Ten Oaks be longer than one week?
We’ve had a lot of feedback from campers and families that they’d like camp to be two weeks in length. While we, too, would love camp to be longer, it’s not a possibility in the immediate future. There are a few reasons for this:
- The majority of our camp staff use their vacation time from full-time employment to volunteer at camp. To give you the best possible camp experience, we need to hire the best staff we can, and our staff have indicated that it’s not possible to volunteer for two weeks.
- Camp Ten Oaks rents our site from another camp and our location is only available for one week in the summer.
- Camper fees currently cover less than 1/4 of the costs of operating Camp Ten Oaks. As a charity, we rely on our community to invest in making Camp Ten Oaks happen each summer. At this time, it is not financially feasible to expand the program.
How can I find out more about Camp Ten Oaks?
If you want to find out more about camp, please feel free to send us an email or give us a call at 613-614-1537. We would be happy to speak with you to answer specific questions that you or your child may have, and to learn more about your child’s needs and desires for their summer experience.