EXPRESSION, GROWTH, AND A PLACE TO BELONG AT CAMP MULBERRY 2022
Camp Mulberry 2022 is one for the books! As campers arrived at Pathfinder Ranch, their pre-camp jitters started to give way to excitement as they began to see familiar faces of their camp friends and meet their counselors. This year Camp Mulberry was busy with 40 campers aged 9-17. Our counselors were ready to welcome them, and from the very beginning there was bonding and it was clear to see the sparks of life-changing connections beginning to form.
While the week was busy with the classic camp fun: archery, hiking, ropes course, and canoeing, there were also one-of-a-kind offerings, like workshops on Healthy Relationships and Gender Euphoria. These were led by our “help team”, camp volunteers who support the community with mental health expertise. Opportunities to participate in the tried-and-true camp favorites and experience special workshops and moments created just for our population of transgender and gender-diverse campers is what makes Camp Mulberry a truly special place.
Both of our camps this year were challenged by late summer weather, and just like Camp Laurel, Camp Mulberry was not thwarted by the afternoon downpours of August monsoons. Our campers and counselors adjusted to the changes and challenges of each day and made the most of their time together in cabins and activities. One of the highlights of any camp experience is watching a community grow and figure out how to face each day working together and learning about one another, this year was no exception.
All of our counselors brought their own skills and talents which were put on display through lively and creative evening activities that they designed and led. Campers grasped those opportunities to let their style and humor shine through in everything they did. From a superhero fashion show, complete with superheroes that end transphobia, to an air band competition that got everyone on their feet with hits from Weezer and Guns and Roses performed by cabin groups, to a night of dreaming of a whole new world and what that would look like that at our Dream Vision Gallery night, our campers gave it their all and brought the house down with heart and humor.
Every year, camp ends with a very special campfire that includes skits and sharing, both silly and sincere. This year was especially unique, as it was hosted by one of our Senior campers, who totally rocked it. While the evening always starts out with very, very, very silly skits and songs from each cabin, it’s also a time when we celebrate accomplishments and have a chance to share wishes for the future. This year, for the first time, the Camp Mulberry Legacy award was given out to a former camper who returned as a counselor. As “Bronco” was handed his award, you could hear murmurs from campers as they realized this is something they can work towards, too.
Closing campfire is also a time to see how our campers have grown during the week, and sometimes over the years. One thing that is consistent, is that as the campers share their hopes and wishes, we are reminded that the camp experience is more needed than ever. Camp Mulberry is a life-changing place for these incredible young people to play and learn and grow, in a place where they are unconditionally accepted for who they are. Being part of this camp is an honor, and it can’t be done without all the different parts of our community playing their role.
None of this would be possible without brave campers who say yes to trying something new, parents who believe in what camp can do, loving counselors and volunteers who understand how to connect and have fun, and the support of medical and mental health professionals to step away from their own busy lives to step into the world of camp, staff members, board members, and donors. Thank you to each person who made this week possible, you were part of something that will stay with campers for the rest of their lives!