Fight Back

Queer summer camp won’t back down after right wing threats

Outdoor sports brand The North Face has become the latest target of conservative boycotts over its support of an LGBTQ+ youth summer camp non-profit, Brave Trails. Although the brand has yet to comment on the boycott campaign, Brave Trails has remained unequivocal: trolls will not intimidate them.

Brave Trails is an outdoor adventure organization for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. The nonprofit provides year-round programming, including Camp Brave Trails, a summer camp for LGBTQ+ youth and allies ages 12 to 17.

Accredited by the American Camp Association, Camp Brave Trails is designed to be “a safe haven for LGBTQ+ youth” where they can “forge lasting connections” and “develop invaluable leadership skills.” But as framed by anti-LGBTQ+ group Gays Against Groomers, the summer camp is solely a place where “kids as young as 12” go to “perform in drag” — which somehow automatically classifies as grooming.

Responding to a 2021 X/Twitter post in which The North Face announced a $70,000 donation to the camp, Gays Against Groomers wrote, “It sounds like they are just begging for the [Bud Light] treatment, and we think we should give it to them.”

Predictably, calls to boycott The North Face have surged as trolls seek to take away a summer camp from kids they claim to be protecting. While The North Face has yet to respond to the boycotts, Brave Trails Communications Director Jake Young told The Advocate that they will not back down as “hate groups try to promote a false-narrative about the work that we do.”

“For many decades, the LGBTQ+ community has been targeted with false stories and accusations,” Young said. “Despite this, we believe that the negative words from these groups won’t stop the important work we do at Brave Trails. We remain committed to creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals, led by LGBTQ+ individuals.”

But becoming a target of Gays Against Groomers has taken its toll, and Brave Trails has increased security measures accordingly. “We have received an influx of negative emails and phone calls from folks who follow these news outlets,” Young said. “For the safety of our campers and staff, we do not share our exact camp locations and are working with cyber security authorities who continue to monitor any hateful online activity.”

“Our mission is to provide inclusive environments led by and for LGBTQ+ individuals, offering resources, role models, and opportunities for youth to thrive,” Young added. “In light of recent negative attention from conservative groups, Brave Trails reaffirms our unwavering commitment to uplifting and empowering LGBTQ+ youth.

“Despite false accusations, we stand by our rigorous staff selection process and accreditation by the American Camp Association, ensuring the highest standards of safety and quality.”

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