DO THIS: Fundraiser for Transgender Youth Summer Camp [UPDATED]

"Wet Hot Trans Summer" seeks to raise funds for Camp Aranu'tiq, a summer camp created especially for trans and gender-variant youth.

Not many childhood memories can top the ones made at Summer Camp — those rare moments when you could break free from your parents to take a mini-vacay with your pals. The lessons learned there are invaluable — independence, social skills … building up the courage to sneak a smooch in the woods — but for transgender youth, these wonderful opportunities can turn as bitter as a charred S’more. “Not many camps know what to do with trans youth,” says Julie Lipson, a recent music therapy grad from Drexel, who points out the gender segregation that invariably happens at these types of getaways. “Isolation is a huge issue for transgender people, especially kids,” she says. “That leads to all sorts of other issues.” But thankfully we have an alternative.

Lipson sits on the board and helps run Camp Aranu’tiq, a weeklong summer camp in Southern California and New England thatwas created especially for trans and gender-variant youth. She says up to 140 young people from across the country attend each camp every year, affording trans youth the opportunity to revel in all the typical summer-camp experiences: singing in the dining hall, canoeing, swimming, arts and crafts. But one of the most important benefits, suggests Lipson, is the chance for trans kids to connect with other trans kids. “We have a 100-percent rate of kids keeping in touch with each other [after they leave camp],” she says. “The fact that these kids meet each other and stay connected is a huge coping skill in their lives.”

Camp Aranu’tiq is a nonprofit organization led by a team of volunteer counselors, which means that its continued success depends on monetary donations. To extend a helping hand from Philly, Lipson has organized an adults-only fundraiser at West Philly’s Studio 34 on Fri., June 21 at 7:30 p.m. Called “Wet Hot Trans Summer,” the camp-themed drag and talent show will be hosted by the gender-bending, corset-rocking Notorious O.M.G. (aka avid trans advocate Rudy Flesher) and feature performances by fellow queens Golden Delicious and Ruby LL Voyager. Lipson says the event’s $10-$20 suggested donation will help fund upcoming camp workshops, and scholarships for youth who can’t afford the admission cost.

For more information and to learn about other ways to help Camp Aranu’tiq, go to

UPDATED [6/25/2013, 2:20 p.m.]: Julie Lipson emailed to say the fundraiser was a huge success, generating $1,000 for trans and gender-variant youth camp Camp Aranu’tiq. Congrats!

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