The next generation of our community’s leaders - Ten Oaks Project

It starts here

Nancy McKelvey

Parent of two campers since 2005

Back in 2004, I was newly out as a lesbian. Although I had long identified as bisexual, I had really just come out and was starting to find my way in the community. That’s when I began to realize that my two boys, Josh and Cooper, might face some of the same struggles in finding and connecting with other families like ours.

I looked around and there was nothing in Ottawa for kids with 2SLGBTQ+ parents back then.

That changed in the biggest way once Camp Ten Oaks started up! The kids had a space of their own, and were able to connect in a way that can only happen at camp. Camp lends an intimacy to friendships, and my boys are still friends with kids they met that very first year. And actually, my wife and I are now very good friends with many of the other camp parents.

I can credit this beautifully diverse chosen family that I now have to Ten Oaks. It’s filled a great void in the community for me.

My boys have shared with me that, after you go to Ten Oaks, there’s something different in your life. You know that there’s a place where you can be yourself, and you won’t be ridiculed for it. You know that there’s at least one place on this earth where you’ll be celebrated. Wouldn’t you have loved to have known that yourself as a child or teenager?

For both my boys, Ten Oaks has always been the highlight of their summer. As a parent, can you imagine a decade of planning summer holidays and family activities around one week of camp?

It’s been that way from the very beginning. Each year, after my partner and I pick them up from their week-long adventure, we ask Josh and Cooper if they want to go back next year. They both always immediately say yes, with no hemming or hawing, or even having to think about it.

Camp isn’t inexpensive, however. As circumstances have changed over the years, there have been summers where I have needed to access the sliding scale fee. Without it, I might have had to tell Cooper and Josh that they couldn’t go.

These kids, regardless of how they identify, are connected to the larger queer community. They are going to grow up to be active participants and leaders of our community. Some of our Camp Ten Oaks campers are already assuming this role! They are engaged in a way that was not possible before camp.

When you give to the Ten Oaks Project, you create a space for our kids to connect and play, and you empower their voices to be heard. Your generosity helps to shape the next generation of our community’s leaders.