KSTEP hosting LGBTQ+ Youth Leadership Summit and Weekend Camp

Staff Report

Each summer across the nation youth go to sleep away camps and build friendships and gain important life skills which lead to better self-esteem, better social skills, and a sense of independence. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ youth can feel left out of these experiences as they don’t feel empowered to be their fully authentic selves.

But this summer the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project (KSTEP) is hosting the first-ever LGBTQ+ youth leadership summit and weekend camp in Kansas: OKamp.

August 10 through 12, KSTEP, along with an army of volunteers, will see upwards of 75 Kansas area youth ages 13-18 at a private retreat in North East Kansas.

Plans for the weekend include a packed schedule with fun activities for the youth from swimming to crafting to a variety show and dance party.

The center of the weekend is built around the leadership summit where there will be guided discussions focused on language, advocacy and diversity. There will also be workshops on self-defense, LGBTQ+ history, activism and identity.

The culmination of the weekend will be a conversation between all the campers and volunteers about the potential future of the camp. Organizers say they would like to see the camp become an independent organization.

“It will really be up to the youth,” said Chrissie Noriega, executive assistant at KSTEP. “I think. youth will feel empowered to be given the opportunity to build OKamp for themselves for 2019 and beyond. The future of the event will be up to them.

“The community response has been amazing, from fundraising to volunteers. I’m encouraged to see people coming together for OKamp. From across the state, they are in support of this weekend for these kids.”

Stephanie Mott, executive director of KSTEP, said, “My adult LGBTQ+ friends are telling me how much something like this would have meant when we were younger. Every time I hear it, I know how important it is for this to happen.”

The Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project is a non-profit organization based in Topeka, KS. Their mission is to foster a society free of discrimination against transgender, gender queer, gender non-conforming, and gender questioning individuals; and their families; through education, networking and empowering leaders.

KSTEP is proud to be hosting this first LGBTQ+ youth leadership summit in the state of Kansas. Organizers say they hope youth who attend this weekend camp will be empowered to return to their communities to make a change, creating a better and brighter future for all LGBTQ+ people in Kansas.

OKamp would not be possible without the generous support from: Lush, Capital City Equality Center, Peaceful Wellness Body Retreat, Replay Lounge and Jazzhaus.

For more information visit www.kstep.org and search OKamp.

Copyright The Gayly. 8/8/2018 @ 1:24 p.m.