Taking S.T.E.P.S. (Supporting the Transformation of Equity and Power in outdoor Spaces)

Mission

The goal of Taking S.T.E.P.S initiative is to create opportunities for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ families to experience representation and community in a family camp setting.

Summer 2023

Registration Timeline

Watch Video Tutorial

  • January 2 – 27, 2023 / S.T.E.P.S. Registration for the Lottery is open 
  • February 22 - 23, 2023 / S.T.E.P.S. Lottery

Registration for S.T.E.P.S. begins with registration for the S.T.E.P.S. lottery. Then, during the lottery, you will register for a cabin and session for the summer. The lottery process gives each family an equal opportunity to register for a designated S.T.E.P.S. cabin. Online registration for the lottery is free of cost. Each family will register as a household. When a household registers for the lottery, they are randomly assigned to a registration wave. Wave assignments will be sent the week prior to the lottery. Participating households will register online using that link. Families interested in being a part of the general Family Camp Lottery can also learn more here.

Registration coming soon!

2023 Session Dates:

6-Night sessions run Sunday to Saturday:

  • Session 4: June 25 – July 1 (S.T.E.P.S. Session)
  • Session 10: July 30 – August 5 (S.T.E.P.S. LGBTQ+ Session)

3-Night sessions:

  • Session 7: July 16 – 19 (Sunday – Wednesday) S.T.E.P.S. Session
  • Session 8: July 19 – 22 (Wednesday – Saturday) S.T.E.P.S. Session

Cost of S.T.E.P.S Sessions:

We use a tiered pricing system for S.T.E.P.S. registration. This means you can choose from a range of tiers and opt in to pay the amount for your cabin/site that makes sense for your family, no questions asked.

The tiers range from $50 to full price for each cabin/site. The registration tier you select will directly support another S.T.E.P.S. family.

S.T.E.P.S. 6-Night Sessions

  • Session 4: June 25 – July 1
  • Session 10: July 30 – August 5
  Deposit Full Rate Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 5 Tier 6
Revontulet 50 4,600 2,000 1,000 500 250 50
Cassiopeia 50 4,100 2,000 1,000 500 250 50
Callisto 50 3,500 2,000 1,000 500 250 50
Cetus 50 2,600 1,000 500 250 50 N/A
Cygnus 50 2,600 1,000 500 250 50 N/A
Virta 50 2,600 1,000 500 250 50 N/A
Aquila 50 2,450 1,000 500 250 50 N/A
Koivu 50 2,450 1,000 500 250 50 N/A
Pegasus 50 2,450 1,000 500 250 50 N/A
Setri 50 2,450 1,000 500 250 50 N/A
Pickerel 50 1,150 500 250 50 N/A N/A
Tree Frog 50 1,150 500 250 50 N/A N/A

S.T.E.P.S. 3-Night Sessions

  • Session 7: July 16 – 19 (Sunday – Wednesday)
  • Session 8: July 19 – 22 (Wednesday – Saturday)
  Deposit Full Rate Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 5
Cassiopeia 50 2,050 1,000 500 250 50
Callisto 50 1,750 1,000 500 250 50
Cetus 50 1,300 500 250 50 N/A
Cygnus 50 1,300 500 250 50 N/A
Virta 50 1,300 500 250 50 N/A
Aquila 50 1,225 500 250 50 N/A
Koivu 50 1,225 500 250 50 N/A
Pegasus 50 1,225 500 250 50 N/A
Setri 50 1,225 500 250 50 N/A
Pickerel 50 575 250 100 50 N/A
Tree Frog 50 575 250 100 50 N/A
Cricket 50 575 250 100 50 N/A

Leadership Development Program (LDP) Partnership

We believe that it is important for our community of staff and Leadership Development Program participants to represent the community of families that we serve. Our LDP Program seeks to help young people develop leadership skills and prepare them to apply for a summer staff position if interested. We want to intentionally create a community within our LDP Program for BIPOC teenagers during Session 4: July 23 – August 6.

If your teenager (ages 14 - 18 by June of 2023) is interested in the Leadership Development Program, a 2-week program of leadership training and “counselor in training” work, please find the application here

Partnerships & Opportunities

North Hennepin Community College Partnership

Camp Northern Lights hosted students and educators from a North Hennepin Community College course – ‘Nature Immersion & Environmental Justice’ – through though a partnership with a S.T.E.P.S. family. See the video documentary below for more information about the class.

If you know of or are a part of a school or organization that would be interested in partnering with Camp Northern Lights in the Fall/Winter/Spring months, please fill out the “Support Us” form below under “Ways to Help Us Grow”. We look forward to hearing from you!

Further information

For ALL S.T.E.P.S. sessions, we hope to create opportunities for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ families to experience representation and community in a family camp setting. Our first summer of S.T.E.P.S., the sessions were created specifically with BIPOC-identifying families in mind. Beginning in 2020, during every session of summer family camp, we host a conversation around equity as an adult activity. Through feedback collected during these conversations, written surveys, and other discussions, in 2022, we added a S.T.E.P.S. session to celebrate families who identify as LGBTQ+.

We at Camp Northern Lights work hard to help every family feel a sense of belonging and community during each session of family camp, and we also realize that S.T.E.P.S. sessions can strengthen the sense of community for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ families that may want to see support in numbers at camp Lights (at least 50% of camp). We want you and your family to come to camp in whichever way makes most sense for your family, and if you have any questions about what that might look like, please reach out to Dan O’Brien, Executive Director, at daniel.obrien@ymcamn.org

PRIDE/LGBTQ+ - In this S.T.E.P.S. session, our goal is to have half of camp be LGBTQ+ identifying families. If you are a family who identifies as LGBTQ+ and are interested in being a part of our 2023 Pride session, please consider applying. We want to grow and strengthen our Pride community as the years continue.

All Other S.T.E.P.S. Sessions - In these sessions (3 of the 4 sessions), our goal is to have at least half of the families at camp identify as BIPOC. If you are a family who identifies as BIPOC and are interested in being a part of these sessions, please consider applying.

If you do not identify as a BIPOC or LGBTQ+ family and are interested in attending a S.T.E.P.S. session, please apply through the general Family Camp Lottery, or register through open enrollment. While we are grateful and excited for your interest in these sessions, our designated S.T.E.P.S. program spaces and tiered pricing payment process are intentionally set aside for families who historically have been under-represented in the Family Camp setting.

Our Story

Equity has been a core value of Camp Northern Lights since the very beginning. The summer 2020 staff team believed in equity put to action. They believed that racial, cultural, gender and LGBTQ+ inclusivity should be integrated into the daily life and spirit of the Northern Lights community.

With the help of many community members and outside resources, the idea of Supporting the Transformation of Equity and Power in outdoor Spaces (S.T.E.P.S.) was born. This bold initiative was created with both a deep-seated love of Family Camp and the desire to make our community a more equitable and accessible space where all families can feel a sense of belonging.

Summer 2021

The inaugural summer of S.T.E.P.S., we partnered with 26 BIPOC families (118 people) over the session dates of August 1-7 and September 3-6. We received 41 Intent to Attend forms (all families came to camp on a first-come first-serve basis), and families of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as familial structures attended camp. Stay tuned to hear from a few families about their experience with the S.T.E.P.S program!

Summer 2022

In the second summer of S.T.E.P.S., we expanded our initiative to four S.T.E.P.S. sessions. We partnered with 46 families, 16 families who had been to camp through S.T.E.P.S. in 2021, and 30 new families. We added our first LGBTQ+ Pride session as a 3-day session, and we connected five BIPOC teens to our Leadership Development Program where they participated in a two-week session as volunteers. We also successfully piloted tiered pricing to allow for a more equitable registration process.

Fall 2022

Fall newsletter coming soon.

Ways to Help Us Grow

As a community, we recognize that we have a lot of work to do. We understand that as much as we want to create change, we also need to continue our education on these important issues. We would love your guidance in helping us grow. See below for ways to support us in this work:

1. In Partnership - Are you connected with a school, organization, or people you think may be interested in attending camp? Do you have trainings, education, or resources surrounding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work? What else do you think we could do to enhance and improve this work? Let us know in the link below! All forms of giving and support are greatly appreciated.

Support Us

2. In contribution - To make this a continued and growing reality, we rely on the support of donations. If giving financially in any capacity is possible for you, it is another important way of making this initiative come to life. See the link below to donate. 

Just Giving

3. Stay Connected – If you would like to be added to our S.T.E.P.S. mailing list and receive S.T.E.P.S. related communications, you can enter your information in the below form. Feel free to leave the “Description of intended support” section blank.

Stay Connected