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Outright Vermont Acquires Camp Sunrise from Scouting America

Establishing a Permanent Home for Nationwide LGBTQ+ Youth Summer Camp and Marking a Historic Step in Social Justice

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Thursday May 16, 2024

Contact: Robyn Freedner-Maguire

C: 802.310.6683

E: freednermaguire@gmail.com


Outright Vermont (Outright) is excited to announce the acquisition of Camp Sunrise, a 146-acre parcel of lakefront property in Addison and Rutland counties in southern Vermont. This purchase results from a call to action by LGBTQ+ youth seeking a summer camp experience where they are embraced and celebrated in a safe camp environment. It allows Outright to expand Camp Outright, its overnight summer camp, to meet the needs of more LGBTQ+ and allied youth in Vermont and across the nation.

The sale of Camp Sunrise from the Green Mountain Council (GMC), Scouting America, to Outright is a significant milestone for each organization and a pivotal historical moment. Underpinned by the shared goals and dedication to the well-being of youth, families, and communities, the acquisition of this land by a queer and trans youth organization is not only a powerful symbol of progress, but shapes a more just society. It marks an important acknowledgment of LGBTQ+ communities and supports a future where queer and trans youth can feel safe, affirmed, and valued.

“As summer approaches, many LGBTQ+ youth in Vermont and across the nation lack access to summer camp experiences where they can feel safe, seen, and truly celebrated. This acquisition brings to life the power of radical hope for LGBTQ+ youth, telling them they are worthy of an experience designed for them where they are safe and celebrated. It says to them, ‘You deserve to just be a kid at a typical summer camp where you can safely enjoy the incredible outdoors and the camaraderie of a shared experience full of roasted marshmallows, ghost stories, and laughter.’” -Dana Kaplan, Outright Vermont Executive Director

Throughout 2023, Outright partnered with GMC, the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) to make this unique purchase possible. The land was conserved with VLT, which protects land and fosters connections to Vermont’s landscape. The ability to steward land in Vermont that borders two lakes and already has key camp structures in place is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working in partnership was key to the success of the acquisition.

“Outright proved to be the perfect partner given its commitment to supporting youth, encouraging personal growth, cultivating community, and protecting the environment. Advancing these shared priorities has been core to Scouting’s stewardship of this special place for more than a century and we are confident that Outright’s leadership will position Camp Sunrise to extend these benefits to future generations.” -Mark Saxon, Scout Executive and CEO

This project also serves a crucial ecological role; the property lies on the shores of two lakes, and is bordered by conserved lands. Lake Sunset is currently the state’s top priority for conservation in the region; for generations, locals have learned to swim on this private shoreline. This sale has been of great concern for locals, who have feared losing access to their beloved lake. Outright is committed to not only preserving that access, but also exploring how to expand opportunities, such as creating a parking area and constructing community trails. 

“We are proud to partner with Outright to ensure that the Camp Sunrise property continues to serve youth, and its waters and lands are forever protected. We applaud Outright’s vision and their dedication to expanding connections between people and the natural world — creating safe access to the outdoors for those who have historically felt excluded.” -Tracy Zschau, VLT President and CEO

Capital improvements and expanded program development are significant undertakings that will unfold over time. Outright doesn’t foresee expansion of Camp Outright for 2024 and will first engage with youth, families, partners, and community stakeholders in a process to design the changes needed for program accessibility and expansion.

"Teamwork, creativity, careful due diligence, a bold vision, and an unwavering commitment to social justice brought us to this pivotal moment. Today marks a major accomplishment. Now we get to the good part: rolling up our sleeves to plan for how we’ll make the camp environment a place where queer joy will abound everywhere." -Dana Kaplan

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Outright Vermont’s Mission: Building a Vermont where all LGBTQ+ youth have hope, equity, and power!

Green Mountain Council’s Mission: The mission of the Green Mountain Council is to prepare young Vermonters to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.