Pine Valley Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Wichita, KS
Camp Sunflower is a three-day camp for Wichita-area LGBTQ youth in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. The idea for the camp came about because youth in this age range attend Pine Valley Christian Church, the home church of some of the steering committee members. In addition, living in a politically conservative state, there tends to be greater stigma and fewer resources available for LGBTQ youth, putting them at even higher risk than in some other geographical areas.
The first camping experience will take place in the summer of 2018 at our local Disciples of Christ camp. We plan to accommodate 20 campers for three days in an atmosphere of profound safety and acceptance. Sessions will include developing greater awareness of personal strengths, developing connections with other youth and with adults, and developing leadership skills such as communication and planning, with the goal that campers will take leadership roles in subsequent camps. Optional sessions on spirituality will give an outlet for those wanting to discuss the topic, while also permitting youth of all religious backgrounds to feel comfortable. Camp fires, singing, and plenty of fun on the challenge course and in the swimming pool will round out the camping experience.
We are in the process of forming our Board of Directors. A number of clergy and members of Wichita-area churches have agreed to sit on the board, as well as the staff of GLSEN (an LGBTQ student organization). Our pool of campers will be drawn, at least in part, from this high school organization.
We are gathering resources from the half-dozen existing similar camps from around the US. The director of one of these camps has agreed to direct our camp as well. We are identifying gay, lesbian, and transgender allies to serve as camp counselors.
Mission Area: At-Risk Children and Youth
Catalyst Grant: US $2,000