Ruby Ridge

Camp Pinecliff and Camp Pine Cone

Well, kittens, some of you noticed that I missed the deadline for the last happy-happy, joy-joy edition of QSaltLake. Michael and JoSelle felt our community had gone through a lot of negativity and pain over the last month, so they wisely decided to compensate with a perky uplifting edition. At the time I was filled to the brim with industrial strength snarkiness about Robert Gibbs and the White House trashing the liberal left, so for the sake of everyone, my self-handicapping psyche made sure I missed the deadline.

Now, a week later, I actually do have some uplifting news.

For those of you who follow my exploits, you know that Mr. Ridge and I have volunteered at the Camp Pinecliff Weekend (a retreat on the Wyoming/Utah border for people with HIV/AIDS, their families and support givers) for the last 21 years.

This year, in addition to our regular Camp Pinecliff Weekend we are adding something wildly different and exciting called Camp Pine Cone. It’s our very first Day Camp for the children of gay and lesbian parents and we couldn’t be more excited! The good people at the Art Access Gallery (love the artists, love the gallery, hate the parking!) have joined with us to lead the arts and crafts workshops. They will be offering printmaking, mosaics and all sorts of other activities for children of all ages — including big kids like me. Although for insurance reasons and the advancement of good taste, I am prohibited to be near a hot glue gun. I know my limitations, cherubs!

Our good friend Ray King from Twigs Flower Co. is wrangling some trays of succulents so the kids can make miniature desert gardens. I had originally thought of doing cactus gardens, but when I mentioned it to Ray he just gave me this incredulous look and said, “You’re doing this with kids, right? … And you do know cacti have thorns, right?” It was about this time I realized that I have the parenting skills of a waffle iron.

To be truthful, I hadn’t thought the whole cactus part through, so he talked me into using some fleshy, roundy-moundy kinds of succulents that won’t impale the children or necessitate chartering a Life Flight helicopter (If you’re coming to Camp Pine Cone with your kids bring a suitable container — we will provide the plants, potting mix and rocks).

The impetus for Camp Pine Cone came last year when Mr. Ridge and I noticed how many campers brought their children. Kids give the campsite an entirely different, uplifting, energetic vibe. Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic has changed so much since the camp’s early days in the late 1980s, we had been looking for a way to make it more relevant. We feel that Camp Pine Cone is a logical progression from where we have been, to where we want to go.

We are going into our inaugural season with our eyes wide open. We are going to try a few things and see how they work, so we can have some feedback for next year. I remember our first AIDS Camp that we did in Kamas. As organizers, we were absolutely convinced that our campers needed a structured schedule of stress management seminars, coping seminars, nutrition seminars and so on. But once we got there, everyone just wanted to sit under a tree and relax. People were so happy just to get out of the city and out into nature that they just vegged out and the schedule kind of imploded. That was a major learning lesson for me, pumpkins. So the next year we redesigned and offered loosely organized activities and it was a total success.

We will also be watching to see how our gay and lesbian parents buy into the kids Camp. If we see a demand, we may partner with First Baptist Church in Salt Lake City to organize other day camps for the kids this winter. FBC used to have a Girls and Boys scout troop, and I can’t help but think how cool it would be to charter a group for the kids of gay and lesbian parents, who are not welcome in our LDS dominated local scouting programs. As hard as it may be to believe Cherubs, I was a scout and decades later, I still have treasured friendships that were formed growing up in scouts, and fond memories of our scouting activities. I really believe in the core principles of scouting (it’s just the extreme politics of the local leadership that bugs me) and I would hate to see the kids of our GLBT families denied those opportunities and experiences. Plus I think it’s absolutely high time the Scouts had Merit Badges for Ikebana and Antiquing!

Anyway Petals, the registration forms are available on QSaltLake.com at: Camp Pinecliff Weekend 2010 and Camp Pine Cone 2010 or on the First Baptist Website (firstbaptist-slc.org) or hard copies are available at the Utah Pride Center. Spread the word to your families and friends. Ciao Babies!

You can see Ruby Ridge and the Matrons of Mayhem in all of their polyester glory at Third Friday Bingo (every Third Friday of the month at 7pm) at First Baptist Church (777 South 1300 East).

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