Bears and their admirers from around the region will be pitching tents, hitching up RVs, and starting campfires at the annual Utah Bears Jamboree, July 26-29, in McCammon, Idaho, an approximate two-hour drive north of Salt Lake City. The annual camp out is a tradition of the Utah Bears, Inc., a social and service group of gay and bisexual men. The gathering each year attracts dozens of bears and their admirers, and this year an extra day of festivities is added.
“Last year, we had 82 attendees from eight states, to include Nevada, California, Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Illinois, Idaho, and of course from Utah,” Kirk Birkle, president of Utah Bears, said. In its ninth year, the camp out has generated a reputation of being one of the largest bear events in the area.
The weekend includes movie nights on a large projector, a tent with some refreshments and outdoor activities. The camp site is well secluded and privately owned, so there’s plenty of privacy for attendees, Birkle said.
“Jamboree gives us city bears a chance to socialize and just have a good time away from the city,” Birkle said. “Aside from all the activities we’ll have, there’s going to be a lot of guys to hang out with and have a good time.”
“We’re really starting to see a more diverse group of bears join our group,” he said. “We are a very inclusive group, regardless of body type, social and economic backgrounds.”
The bears meet weekly for coffee at Raw Bean Coffeehouse and have a regular attendance of around 25- 40 bears. After coffee, the group meets for dinner at a local restaurant. With more than 135 participating members, it’s one of the largest gay social and service groups in the region.
While bears are normally seen as hairy, burly men — admirers, or chasers, and others who just generally enjoy the company of men, are invited to attend. Tickets are $85 for non-members and $65 for members. For more information about the camp out and other Utah Bear activities, go to utahbears.com or find them on Facebook at Utah Bears, Inc.