History - Ten Oaks Project

Where we came from

In April 2004, the Ten Oaks Project was co-founded by Holly and Julia Wagg, who noticed a gap in services for the children and youth of 2SLGBTQ+ families in the National Capital Region.

The first program to grow out of this vision was Camp Ten Oaks, followed by Rainbow Families, Project Acorn, Oak Grove Family Camp, and Camp Lifting Leaves.

Camp Ten Oaks

The feasibility of a summer camp program was tested through a needs assessment survey conducted between April and August 2004. The report, We Wanna Summer Camp Program!, was released in December of that year.

Highlights from this report include:

81.6% of 2SLGBTQ+ parents, guardians, 2SLGBTQ+ youth and allies would send their children, or attend themselves, a camp program designed specifically for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

65.6% of survey respondents wanted a summer sleep-away camp more than a summer day, family, March/Spring break or Christmas break camp. One week was the preferred length for a camp program.

The majority of respondents, 62.4%, felt that a camp program would be more accessible to themselves and/or their families if it were offered on a sliding scale.

Eleven months of fundraising, planning and development resulted in a one-week summer camp, the first of its kind in Canada, in August 2005. The demand for Camp Ten Oaks grew over the years, and in 2018, we launched a second week of Camp Ten Oaks!

Rainbow Families

Partnering with Family Services Ottawa and Centretown Community Health Centre in October 2004, the Ten Oaks Project began to deliver a bi-monthly program for children of 2SLGBTQ+ families. The Rainbow Families group, for 2SLGBTQ+ parents and their children, was the first of its kind in Ottawa.

The parents’ group met for support, education and advocacy. Childcare was provided for children 0 to 6 and the Ten Oaks Project provided programming for children 7-12.

In July 2006, the Ten Oaks Project decided to focus its efforts on growing its organization, while Family Services Ottawa and Centretown Community Health Centre continued to offer much needed support to 2SLGBTQ+ families through this group.

Project Acorn

In 2009, we launched Project Acorn, a radical leadership camp for youth aged 16-24 from 2SLGBTQ+ communities. The Project Acorn Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) guides the development, planning and delivery of the retreat with support and guidance from the Ten Oaks Project’s board of directors. The engaged and active participation of the YAC, and the unique perspective of each of its members help to create a leadership development retreat that reflects the aspirations and capacities of youth from 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

Oak Grove Family Camp

In 2017, we launched our first session of Oak Grove Family Camp, a weekend long, sleep-away camp for 2SLGBTQ+ families who have a child or youth aged 17 or under in their care (including both those who are headed by (a) 2SLGBTQ+ parent(s) and those with an 2SLGBTQ+ child).

camp lifting leaves

In 2018, we partnered with Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario to launch Camp Lifting Leaves. We have seen a growing need for connection and community building amongst children and youth ages 8-21 from 2SLGBTQ+ communities who are in and out of care, and are thrilled to offer a camp just for them!