June 25, 2014 - For more than a decade, Camp fYrefly has brought together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies to take part in a unique summer camp. The goal: to give young people, aged 14 to 24, a safe and supporting environment where they feel free to express themselves and learn from each other.
Started by the University of Alberta's Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) as an educational outreach program, Camp fYrefly focuses on building and nurturing the leadership potential and personal resiliency of the campers in an effort to help them learn how to make significant contributions to their own lives and to their schools, home/group-home environments, and communities.
Campers in the program attend sessions focused on topics such as recognizing healthy and unhealthy relationships, sexual health, career planning, and emotional and psychological wellbeing.
For Tonya Callaghan, an assistant professor in the Werklund School of Education, Camp fYrefly provides an important opportunity for LBGTQ youth and their friends to grow. This year in mid-July, she'll be presenting "Acting OUT: Using drama to resist religiously-inspired homophobia," a special workshop for the southern Alberta camp on how youth can be leaders of social change, which she recently discussed.