The fourth Queer Camp, a weekend retreat that brings LGBTQ and allied students together, will take place from Sept. 25 to 27 at the Pearlstone Center.

The retreat, which is only open to university students, “builds cohorts and communities, engages and connect students to campus involvement and resources, and supports the resilience and identity development of LGBTQ and allied students,” said Nicholas Sakurai, the Equity Center’s director of leadership initiatives.

Students on a past retreat participate in various team building exercises. (Photo courtesy of Nick Sakurai)
Students on a past retreat participate in various team building exercises. (Photo courtesy of Nick Sakurai)

“It’s about building a supportive community,” said Luke Jensen, the director of the LGBT Equity Center. “It smoothes that transition from their home to the college environment.”

About 40 individuals will attend this year’s retreat, including 32 students and four staff members, Sakurai said. Eight of the students are volunteer leaders who will direct the retreat, while the staff members are there to provide support, Sakurai said.

Students will attend an opening welcome ceremony upon arrival at the retreat. They will spend the weekend participating in various activities that help them get to know each other, as well as team building exercises and learning about campus resources, Jensen said.

The variety of workshops students engage in help them understand more about campus LGBTQ resources, Sakurai said. Students participate in discussions about social justice, engage in storytelling as a powerful tool for self-expression and other activities that build their skill in self-care and wellness, Sakurai said.

“Students form a cohort while they’re there and come back to campus and integrate themselves into the LGBT community on campus,” Jensen said.

Based on research and experience, students who attend the retreat have higher retention and graduation rates because they have peer support that’s important for the college experience, according to Jensen.

“Students report that the program serves as a lifeline, a connection to a community and a sense of belonging on a sometimes bewilderingly large campus,” Sakurai said.

The retreat costs $35, which includes meals, lodging and transportation. The bus will leave campus around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 and will return in the afternoon on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Applications for the retreat are due Sept. 14 at 5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr

headshotMaya Pottiger is a junior journalism major and can be reached at mayabee777@aim.com.

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