While some states have seemingly taken on war against young LGBTQ+ individuals, other locations have become havens. In the case of Camp fYrefly, some youth in Canada have the freedom to find their voice. The documentary Summer Qamp examines a seeming paradise for teens who will have to return to the difficult lives they lead. The joyous and free-flowing film does not push too hard on its subjects, instead letting them lead the narrative throughout the summer.
At Camp fYrefly, dozens of LGBTQ+ teens gather for a summer in the open. Trans kids can further understand their gender identity. Cis presenting individuals can share their experiences at home and in school. Other questioning members of the community can actively discover more about themselves. The camp culminates in a talent show, with the various members of the community presenting their talents to the diverse community they’ve grown to trust.
More than anything, Summer Qamp proves there’s a positive place for teens and queer youth in the world. Director Jen Markowitz‘s greatest strength is getting their subjects to trust them. Markowitz faces a difficult challenge but clearly puts in the work to bond with each participant. As a result, Summer Qamp gets incredibly open and honest answers, even when those answers may paint the active narrator in a negative light.
The stories told about their home lives can quickly become worrying. We observe parents ignore information their children send their way. Even when the participant connects with their parent, the information can become difficult for both parent and child to fully grasp. In a place like Camp fYrefly, the latest terminologies and identifying concepts can be taught, but unfortunately for parents, they simply may not be prepared for their child’s developing understanding. While parents need to accept their children for who they are, some children are disappointed that their parents do not immediately understand what is being asked of them. It’s a wise dichotomy for Markowitz to explore and makes for interesting stories to follow.
The concept of intersectionality also shines through in Summer Qamp. A pair of adopted children begin to examine their heritage with each other. As they do, it’s impossible to ignore that their home country does not have a great record on LGBTQ+ rights. While they yearn to understand their background and find common ground on the difficulties that put on their parents, they craft an impressive dialogue about the questions they face.
Ultimately, Summer Qamp features a mostly low-stakes story, even though the subject is timely. As teenagers explore what it means to be queer, trans, or any other concept on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, they find a place of acceptance. In that sense, the work being done at Camp fYrefly is some of the most important work in the world. Well-shot, and well-paced, there’s not much to Summer Qamp except for this positive vision of the community.