September 25, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Brave Trails Summer Camp for Queer Youth

The campers at  Brave Trails are told, above all else, they get a “second family” while participating in this Los Angeles-based LGBTQ+ youth summer camp. 

Brave Trails blossomed out of the love that founders Jessica and Kayla Weissbuch’s share for summer camp and queer youth mentorship. 

“With the skills learned at camp, our campers will be primed to thrive in their schools, workplace and personal lives,” Jessica said. “In addition, our campers will have the knowledge and confidence to be more impactful leaders and implement innovative social change in their communities.”

The camp’s program focuses on four key elements: Leadership, Community Building, Self-Realization, and Service. They use workshops, adventure and artistic programming, service projects, peer connections and positive role models to “create a safe space where youth can thrive.” Jessica said that with the skills learned at Brave Trails, campers will be primed to thrive in their schools, workplace and personal lives. In addition, Jessica said that campers will have the knowledge and confidence to be more impactful leaders and implement innovative social change in their communities.

“It is important to have a queer-specific space for our youth because the campers are able to connect with one another in a very different way,” Jessica said. “They are able to talk about things they have in common and find a tribe that they fit into.  Even though much of Los Angeles is a liberal bubble, not all of it is.”

Most campers come to Brave Trails with a “shield of armor” on, but through the course of the program, they are able to “take that off,” Jessica said. 

“We give them the space to not have to look over their shoulder and defend themselves (which they often have to do at their schools and in their communities),” Jessica explained. 

This year, Brave Trails has partnered with Los Angeles-based Camp TAZO ambassador JD Knapp for more fun and mentorship.  Camp TAZO® ‘Passion’ was TAZO tea’s inaugural camp experience that brought 30 strangers from across the country to Marble Falls, TX to break out of their comfort zones, and send them to a sleep-away camp directed by vivacious drag queen Alyssa Edwards.

“Brave Trails attendees can expect a surprisingly heartfelt yet undeniably entertaining speech from me this June,” JD said in an interview with the Pride LA. “My life story is truly a work of fiction and I cannot wait to start using my past pain to help encourage and inspire the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders. 

“For some people with especially difficult childhoods, it doesn’t just get better once you get to live your life for yourself: it starts.”

Brave Trails takes place from June –  August with several one or two week long programs available. The campsite is in the Angeles National Forest. For more information, visit the website at bravetrails.org.

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