LGBTQ+ youth camp expansion planned for conserved land

Outright Vermont (Outright), a nonprofit that has been serving LGBTQ+ youth for 34 years, is one step closer to establishing a permanent home for Vermont’s only summer camp tailored to LGBTQ+ and allied youth.

With a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), Outright can buy lakefront property—fulfilling its long-held vision to create a permanent summer camp, Camp Outright.

“Each year we have to turn away over 100 LGBTQ+ youth,” said Dana Kaplan, Outright Executive Director. “With this grant, we’re on track to significantly expand the number of youth able to feel safe in their camp experience, connect with the outdoors, and discover the joy of being in a community they can truly call home.”

The 146-acre property has served as a Boy Scout camp since 1923. The sale of the land from the Scouts to Outright will be finalized later this spring. Once established, Outright will expand its camp programming to serve more LGBTQ+ campers through extended sessions and more outdoor programming for families.

According to the American Camp Association, only 36 of the nation’s roughly 16,000 day and overnight summer camps are considered LGBTQ+ friendly, making Camp Outright a national leader.

A group of six young people in the Camp Outright program on a cabin porch .

The parcel of land is surrounded by lakes, wetlands, forests, and ridgelines. 118 acres will be permanently protected with the Vermont Land Trust, which has worked closely with Outright over the past year on the acquisition. The grant from VHCB will enable the sale to go forward with significant conservation outcomes.

“Working alongside Outright to advance this project has been incredible,” said Donald Campbell of the Vermont Land Trust. “Not only are we protecting ecologically important lands and shoreline, we’re also helping Outright connect LGBTQ+ youth to the outdoors and all the benefits that nature provides.”

Positioned between state-owned and conserved lands, the property sits within an 1,867-acre forest block that supports natural communities and habitats that are significant on a statewide level. This includes limestone cliffs and talus slopes, extensive riparian and wetland complexes, and vernal pools that support a diversity of rare plants and animals. Conservation of this land protects these unique ecological values.

“We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Outright Vermont and Vermont Land Trust on reaching this significant milestone in establishing Camp Outright. We are thrilled to support their vision of creating an outdoor camp dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth,” said VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig. “The award from our Board reflects our commitment to both preserve valuable lands and foster connections with nature. We look forward to the positive impact this project will have for Outright’s campers for generations to come.”

With Outright’s acquisition, community concern that the former Boy Scouts Camp would be sold to a buyer not committed to conservation, has been alleviated.

“I’m thrilled with the acquisition and am relieved that Outright shares the same values to protect what is a community treasure. It’s a win-win for our community and the environment,” said Paul Schroeder, President of the Sunrise, Sunset-Perch Pond Association.