Answers to your burning questions
How did Project Acorn 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. The first camp program, Camp Ten Oaks, opened its doors in 2005 for children and youth aged 8-17.
In 2008, the Ten Oaks Project decided to expand it’s programming to open a second camp for youth aged 16-24. This new program was developed under the leadership of Sonja Prakash and Mark Schaan, both who were board members at the time.
Two Program Coordinators and the very first YAC Coordinators visited Camp fYrefly in Edmonton to see how the program was organized. When they returned to Ottawa, they formed the first YAC team and Project Acorn ran its first session in the summer of 2009.
Where did the names “Ten Oaks Project” and “Project Acorn” 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 and the nickname “acorns” was adopted for our campers and participants, we call it Project Acorn.
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+).
How is the program content created for Project Acorn? What workshops are being offered, and who else is going to be speaking at the program?
Our Youth Advisory Committee and Leadership Team identify the workshop topics, all-camp activities and potential speakers/facilitators in April of each year. They decide on all of this based on the feedback we’ve gotten about the program in previous years, and in consultation with youth from LGBTQ+ identities, families and communities through things like online surveys and focus groups. They reach out to potential facilitators and speakers in May and aim to confirm the program schedule by the end of June but it is always subject to change as things come up for some of our facilitators and speakers at the last minute and they have to change their plans. We’ll post information about the program as soon as we can via the Project Acorn Tumblr.
Where do the youth come from?
The majority of participants who come to Project Acorn live in Ottawa, but we’ve had participants (and volunteers!) come from across Canada to participate in our programs.
What are pods?
Pod is our name for cabin groups! All Project Acorn participants, YAC members and ROCs are divided into four pods that act as their “home base” over the course of the program. Participants and YAC members sleep in the same cabin as the rest of their pod members and every night after the day’s activities are done, the whole pod does a group check-in.
Where do participants sleep?
At night, participants rest up in their pod’s cabin. All cabins are all-gender spaces with bunk beds.
What is social justice?
Social justice promotes human equality and equity by recognizing the underlying conditions in our everyday lives that foster inequalities and inequity, a lack of opportunity or discrimination. 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 Project Acorn be longer than four days?
We’ve had a lot of feedback from participants that they’d like Project Acorn to be longer. While we too would love camp to be longer, it not a possibility in the immediate future. There are a couple of 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 a longer period of time.
- Project Acorn fees currently cover a small fraction of the costs of operating Project Acorn. As a charity, we rely on our community to invest in making Project Acorn happen each summer. At this time, it is not financially feasible to expand the program.
How can I find out more about Project Acorn?
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 may have.