Rose always knew she wanted to be a girl. She wanted to dress like a girl, play with dolls and wear pink clothes.
Secretly, she could be a girl at home. But outside of her house, she lived a lie and her life as a boy. Rose wasn't safe enough to live her truths and authentic story.
"I was unhappy and sad before I transitioned," explains Rose in a beautiful letter. "I wasn't who I thought I was to be."
Her life drastically changed when she went to Camp Ten Oaks, a one-week, sleep-away camp for children and youth from LGBTQ identities, families and communities. Camp Ten Oaks is part of the Ten Oaks Project, a Canadian-based organization that engages and supports young people from LGBTQ communities through camp.
Something changed in Rose at camp. She was in a supportive environment and surrounded by others like her, which gave her the courage she needed to live as a girl.
"In that moment, I could see a different future for myself," Rose says. "If it weren't for camp, I think I'd still be a boy. And unhappy about my life."
When I think about the young people who go to Camp Ten Oaks and Project Acorn (Ten Oaks' other camp for youth), my heart is filled with so much joy. These young people can experience community, belonging and live their truths.
I think of the Jenna of my past and how my life would've been so different if I had a place like Camp Ten Oaks or Project Acorn to call home. Perhaps I would've seen a different future for myself at a younger age, which would've helped me accept all the pieces of my story sooner.
The sooner these young people can experience this freedom, acceptance and belonging, the sooner they can blossom into the beautiful roses they are meant to be.
Ten Oaks’ bowl-a-thon fundraiser is also coming up on March 21. The group is hoping to raise $40,000 to help send kids to camp. This year's bowl-a-thon will help subsidize camper registration fees (80 per cent of participants access the sliding scale) and send 10 extra participants to camp.
Please support my bowling team, the Team Players here, so we can help send children and youth like Rose to camp. I’ll write you a personalized haiku or poem based on how much you donate!
On another awesome note, I know I know I know you want to hear this news. Tegan and Sara have also donated several prizes to our bowl-a-thon, including an autographed poster, varsity jacket and a rare vinyl box set collection. You can check out the awesome awesome swag here!