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Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer is a music camp for LGBTI youth

Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer is a music camp for LGBTI youth

Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer, or QORDS, is a summer camp catering to LGBTI youth between the ages of 11 and 17.

The camp, which focuses on music and social justice, is located in North Carolina.

GSN recently spoke with Natalie Watson and Matt Trower, two core members of the QORDS team, about the camp.

Both Natalie and Matt joined QORDS a couple years ago. Since joining the QORDS team, they have both only heard positive things from campers, parents, and other supporters of LGBTI rights.

‘We don’t necessarily hear negative feedback about the camp,’ Matt says. ‘The kids who need it, find it.’

Most of the young people attending the camp have found out about it either via Google search, on social media, or by word of mouth.

What makes QORDS special?

Considering QORDS has a unique setup that doesn’t separate campers by gender, but rather by age, it’s a comfortable space for LGBTI youth to find themselves. Each day, the camp also offers new name tags so that campers can experiment with names and pronouns.

This past summer was QORDS’ biggest turnout yet, with 22 campers from across the country and even a waiting list.

In terms of future plans, QORDS isn’t likely to expand outside of the American South.

‘Regardless of where our campers are from, we’re definitely a Southern queer thing,’ Natalie says.

Still, next summer QORDS hopes to make accommodations so that more people will be able to participate, such as offering multiple week-long sessions.

Inspired by a music camp in Olympia, Washington, QORDS focuses on music as a means of expression for LGBTI youth.

‘Music is something that can be such a great escape and also a way to bring someone home,’ Natalie explains.

Many campers have never picked up an instrument before coming to QORDS, but the camp allows them the freedom of learning one.

For Matt, the most magical part of the QORDS experience is watching the campers form bands and and make their own songs.

Both Natalie and Matt think it’s significant that the staff of QORDS are queer-identifying, as it allows the younger campers to see ‘adult versions’ of themselves. This, paired with meeting other young LGBTI people, lets the campers know that they’re not alone.

‘[QORDS] is not just a fun week-long experience, but also a fostering environment,’ Natalie says.

Natalie and Matt urge anyone with questions to reach out to QORDS via their website.

QORDS is also seeking Southern-based LGBTI volunteers for next summer’s sessions.