Not Your Typical Gay Camp….

Pride Camp is an epic, life changing program for LGBTQ and allied youth to learn, grow, and connect with each other.


Register for Pride Camp!

Apply to be a Camp Counselor!


June 12th-14th, 2018 | Des Moines, IA

80% of LGBTQ youth report severe social isolation in high school…

It is easy to think that LGBTQ students have it good here in Iowa. We passed the Anti-Bullying and Anti-Harassment Act of 2007, amended the Iowa Civil Rights Code to include gender identity and sexual orientation in 2007, and won marriage equality in 2009.

The work is over right…? Wrong.

Iowa Safe Schools works with thousands of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning students in all 99 counties of Iowa, and an overwhelming majority have expressed feelings of loneliness, discrimination, sadness, and lack of interaction with other student like them.

Pride Camp is looking to change that.

The mission of Iowa Safe Schools’ Pride Camp is to provide a safe and affirming place for LGBTQ & allied youth to learn valuable life skills and network with other LGBTQ youth in a supportive and nurturing environment. Pride Camp is an epic, life changing program for LGBTQ and allied youth to learn, grow, and connect with each other.

Pride Camp is not your typical gay camp, and is the first of it’s kind in the Midwest to offer a safe space for students in an overnight, summer camp format.

The Impact of Pride Camp

Studies show that being able to speak with a supportive and caring adult can have a significant positive impact for a student, particularly those who feel alone (GLSEN, 2015). Pride Camp is so much more than something for a student to do over summer vacation. We are helping build the resiliency of youth who identify with a marginalized population, and are building tomorrow’s leaders today.

Many LGBTQ students in Iowa live in rural communities where they are the only “out” student, and don’t get to interact with other LGBTQ or allied youth. Pride Camp is a safe space for all students to connect with peers, learn important life skills, and create amazing memories.

Choose a Track!

Campers will choose between three tracks to follow for the duration of camp. These tracks include hands-on activities and scenarios that challenge students to use the skills and concepts that they learn to problem solve and create change.

Leadership Track

Do you naturally take charge in a group? Do you want to learn the skills of an amazing leader? During Pride Camp, campers will participate in a variety of interactive workshops led by enthusiastic facilitators who are passionate about leadership. These workshops will help students master the different aspects of leadership, as they prepare to serve their communities and world as proud LGBTQ individuals.

Advocacy Track

Are you interested in the political process? Thinking of running for public office someday? During Pride Camp, campers will participate in a variety of interactive workshops led by facilitators and Iowa politicians who are excited to pass their skills on to the next generation of political minds. Workshops will give campers an inside look at the legislative process, campaigning, and how to create meaningful allies in advocacy work as an LGBTQ person.

STEM Track

Science, technology, engineering, and math are fields of increasing interest in the LGBTQ community. During Pride Camp, campers will participate in a variety of interactive and hands-on workshops led by facilitators, STEM major college students, and STEM field professionals. Facilitators are excited to help campers dive deeper into various STEM concepts, and will give campers an overview of the intersections of the LGBTQ community and the STEM field, both historically and moving toward the future.


Pride Camp Schedule**

Day 1

10:00-11:00am                  Registration (Dorm & Track Assignments)

11:00-11:45am                   Family Brunch

11:45-12:30pm                  Welcome (Housekeeping & Farewell to Families)

12:30-12:45pm                  Break/Move to Track Room

12:45-4:45pm                     Track Time

4:45-5:00pm                       Break

5:00-5:40pm                       Dinner

5:40-5:55pm                       Break/Move to Track Room

5:55-7:55pm                       Track Time

7:55-8:10pm                       Break

8:10-8:55pm                       Evening Activities

8:55-10:10pm                     Casino Games

10:10-10:40pm                  Get Ready for Bed

10:45pm                               Lights Out

Day 2

6:30am                                 Wake Up Call

7:00-7:45am                       Breakfast

7:45-8:00am                       Break/Move to Track Room

8:00-11:00am                     Track Time

11:00-11:15am                   Break

11:15-12:00pm                  Lunch

12:00-1:00pm                   Group Activity/Recreation

1:00-1:15pm                       Break/Move to Track Room

1:15-4:45pm                       Track Time

4:45-5:00pm                       Break

5:00pm-5:45pm                 Dinner

5:45pm-6:00pm                 Break/Move to Track Room

6:00-8:00pm                       Track Time

8:00-8:45pm                       Drag Show

8:45-10:30pm                     Evening Activities

10:30-11:00pm                  Get Ready for Bed

11:05pm                               Lights Out!

Day 3

6:30am                                 Wake Up Call/Pack Up

7:00-7:45am                       Breakfast

7:45-8:00am                       Break/Move to Track Room

8:00-11:00am                     Track Time Wrap Up

11:00-11:15am                   Break

11:15-12:00pm                  Lunch

12:00-12:45pm                  Camp Closing Session

12:45pm                               Depart

**Schedule is tentative and subject to change.

Pride Camp Packing List

This is a recommended list of clothing and equipment for a 3-day, 2-night Pride Camp. Make additions you feel will be appropriate for your comfort, but remember that storage space is limited. Label all items with your first and last names, using permanent marker or tape. Make sure to view items that are not allowed at camp!

We encourage you to consider Iowa’s consistently changing weather, as well as the inherent nature of camp activities when choosing clothing to bring to camp. Remember that camp is informal, and your clothes will get dirty! We ask that clothing brought to camp is reasonably modest in style and cut, and that any graphics or messages on clothing be tasteful and responsible.


To keep dorms clean and clutter-free, we ask that you pack and use luggage that will fit under your bed or in a closet. Bring a backpack or shoulder bag that can hold a rain coat, water bottle, notebook, and writing utensils

It is helpful for transportation if all your items, including pillow and sleeping bag/XL twin sheets fit in one or two clearly labeled pieces of luggage that can close securely.


  • Underwear and socks for 3 days
  • Short sleeve shirts or t-shirts for 3 days
  • 2 long sleeve t-shirts
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 2-3 pairs shorts
  • 1-2 pairs long pants (jeans, sweatpants, etc.)
  • White cotton items to tie-dye (socks, tanks, shirts, bandanas, etc.)
  • Baseball cap or other hat with a wide brim (for sun protection)
  • Rain-jacket
  • Pajamas
  • Shower shoes or flip-flops
  • Comfortable close-toed shoes (athletic shoes or sneakers are perfect)

Hygiene/Toiletries Items

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Deodorant or anti-perspirant
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Comb or hair-brush
  • Body Wash
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), enough to apply several times a day
  • Insect repellant
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses with supplies
  • Tampons or pads (if applicable)
  • Medications (prescription and non-prescription) All medications must be given to Pride Camp staff upon arrival and check-in to camp
  • Any other hygiene items that are a part of your daily routine

Bedding and Linens

  • Sleeping bag or XL twins sheet set for dorm bed
  • Pillow with pillowcase
  • Laundry bag
  • 1 bath towel
  • 1 washcloth
  • One beach towel
  • Plastic bag for damp items coming home
  • Mesh bag or shower caddy for bathroom supplies

Optional/Extra Items

  • Writing materials (pens/pencils, notebook, etc.)
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Bandana

Lost & Found/Valuables

All your clothing, linens, possessions, and luggage should be clearly labeled with your first and last name. Unlabeled and unclaimed items that cannot be used at camp will be donated to a local charity organization in the fall. Iowa Safe Schools is not responsible for lost or missing items. Please leave valuable, cherished, or irreplaceable items at home.

Items That Should Not Be Brought to Camp

  • Weapons of any kind; pocket knives, fireworks, lighters, or matches
  • Tobacco products, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Grand View University is a smoke-free campus.
  • Food, candy, chewing gum, or soda (except pre-approved for special diets)
  • Radios, music/DVD/video game players, iPads, iPods, Kindles, or other electronics
  • Inappropriate reading material (ex. offensive or violent pictures or content)
  • High-value items (expensive cameras, expensive jewelry, etc.)
  • Pets (Service animals are exempt)
  • Sports equipment like bats, sticks, bows, or other items that require special training for safe use
  • Vehicles or bicycles (camper may not have/use personal transportation at camp. Youth attending camp should plan to get a ride to camp, or check in their car keys when they check in for camp)

Personal Health & Hygiene

Campers are expected to care for themselves by:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Eating healthfully
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Showering
  • Changing into clean clothes regularly
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing hands often
  • Using sunscreen & insect repellent appropriately

Pride Camp staff will model the expectations and provide gentle reminders to campers, but families should set expectations regarding changing clothing and personal hygiene before your camper arrives at camp. Coach you camper to tell an adult if they feel hurt, ill, or if they notice an unusual symptom.

Sun Safety

Pride Camp recommends that all campers use sunscreen throughout camp, and take care of themselves by staying hydrated and taking advantage of shade and indoor activities on occasion.

Camper Health

The health and safety of Pride Camp campers is Iowa Safe Schools’ first priority. Iowa Lutheran Hospital is located one mile from Grand View University. Camp staff hold current first-aid and CPR certification.

For each camper, please provide current health history. Please complete this form carefully and thoroughly. Ensure that all prescription medications have a written, signed medication order. Campers who do not return completed medical forms will not be allowed to attend camp.


The designated Pride Camp staff member will keep and dispense all medications at camp during meals, at bedtime, or at other specified times. All medications must be:

  • Submitted to the camp staff during check-in
  • Kept in their original containers
  • Unexpired
  • Fully documented on the camper health history
  • Do not pre-sort medications

Prescription Medication

Must have the following:

  • Original pharmacy label showing the patient’s name
  • The prescription numbers
  • Date filled
  • Physician’s name
  • Name of medications
  • Directions for use
  • Expiration date

If a camper needs to carry their asthma inhaler or epinephrine auto-injector (Epi-Pen) at all times, parents/guardians must send a second inhaler or auto-injectors to be kept the camp nurse in case of an emergency.

Health Communication with Parents/Guardians

The Pride Camp Director or Iowa Safe Schools staff member will contact parents/guardians if their camper requires outside health care or emergency care, or if they have any questions regarding a camper’s health.

If a camper becomes ill or injured at camp, Pride Camp staff will call you to consult and may ask you to pick up your camper and seek treatment. All campers are required to provide proof of health insurance. Parents/guardians are responsible for paying the costs of any outside health care and prescriptions.

Register for Pride Camp!

Arrival and Departure

You may arrive at camp no earlier than 12:00pm June 12th, 2018.

Parents will reunite with campers after lunch on June 14th, and families will depart immediately after. Remember to check for lost and found items, and pick up leftover medications.

Getting to Camp:


The following airlines serve the Des Moines International Airport and provide direct connections to cities throughout the United States:


American Airlines






From Des Moines International Airport

Head west on Cowles Dr.

Turn left onto Fleur Dr.

Continue onto Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy.

Turn right onto the I-235 E ramp.

Keep left, follow signs for I-235 E and merge onto I-235 E.

Take exit 9 toward US-69/E 14th St./E 15th St.

Keep right to continue toward Lyon St.

Turn left onto E. 15th St.

  1. 15th St. becomes E. 14th St.

Continue north on E 14th St. to Morton Ave.

Turn right (east) onto Morton Ave. and arrive at the Student Center.


From the west on I-235

Exit I-235 on the E. 14th/15th St. exit, and turn left (north) onto E 15th St.

  1. 15th St. becomes E. 14th St.

Continue north on E 14th St. to Morton Ave.

Turn right (east) onto Morton Ave. and arrive at the Student Center.


From I-35 or I-80 or I-235 from the east

Take I-235 West. Continue to E. Euclid Ave. exit.

Proceed right (west) on E. Euclid Ave. to E. 14th St.

Turn left (south) onto E. 14th St.

Continue south on E. 14th St.

Turn left (east) onto Morton Ave. and arrive at the Student Center.


For family or friends of camp attendees


Staybridge Suites Des Moines Downtown – 3.3 miles from camp, from $119/night

Hyatt Place Des Moines/Downtown – 3.3 miles from camp, from $116/night

AC Hotel by Marriott Des Moines East Village – 2.4 miles from camp, from $170/night

Des Lux Hotel – 3.4 miles from camp, from $164/night

Embassy Suites by Hilton Des Moines Downtown – 3.2 miles from camp, from $152/night

Des Moines Marriott Downtown – 3.6 miles from camp, from $149/night


Things to Do in Des Moines

Blank Park Zoo –

Science Center of Iowa –

Des Moines Art Center –

Jordan Creek Town Center Shopping Mall –

Cinemark 20 Jordan Creek and XD Movie Theater –

Iowa Cubs Baseball at Principal Park –

Walking Trails –

Waveland Golf Course –

Adventureland Theme Park and Adventure Bay Water Park –


Local Restaurants in Des Moines

Centro – $$ – $$$

Zombie Burger & Drink Lab – $$ – $$$

Fong’s Pizza – $$ – $$$

Gusto Pizza Co. – $$ – $$$

Jethro’s B – $$- $$$

Drake Diner – $$ – $$$

4th + Court Hy-Vee Market Grille – $ – $$$

Register for Pride Camp!

How old do I have to be to attend Pride Camp?

Campers must have completed their freshman year of high school (age 14), and may attend camp through the summer of their senior year (age 18).

What does the registration fee include?

  1. Instruction by Iowa Safe Schools and other influential community leaders
  2. Pride Camp t-shirts, back pack, notebook, pen, and water bottle
  3. Daily activities and programming specific to the camper’s chosen track
  4. Camp-wide activities
  5. Campus room and board in one of Grandview University’s dormitories
  6. All meals from Tuesday evening through Thursday afternoon
  7. 15:1 camper to counselor ratio

Is Pride Camp at a summer camp facility?

Grand View’s 50-acre campus is in the heart of Des Moines. Campers will be housed in college dorms, and will eat 3 meals a day in the college dining hall.

Based on your responses to a few simple questions on your Registration Form, Pride Camp staff will do their best to place you in a room with other compatible campers. If your camper is interested in rooming with a particular person, they may make that request on the questionnaire.

Do I have to participate in all the activities offered at Pride Camp?

Of course! Pride Camp staff do their best to create engaging and interactive workshops and activities for campers. Participating in all camp activities will make your Pride Camp experience more memorable, and we strongly recommend that campers try their best at each event throughout the day. There will be opportunities for campers to choose an activity they are more interested in, and different learning tracks allow for campers to dive into subjects and areas that most interest them.

While staff will not force participation, campers are required to be with their tracks or teams during every all-camp activity.

How much extra money will I need?

None! Your registration fees cover all activities, meals, and lodging while at Pride Camp. Campers should not bring large amounts of money to camp with them, and staff are not responsible for any lost or stolen money during camp.

I’m not very athletic, will I have a good time at Pride Camp?

Yes! Pride Camp offers a wide variety of activities for campers to choose from throughout their stay. Not every activity is physical, and there will be opportunities for campers to dive into their creative side during camp. In addition, many campers will find that Pride Camp is the perfect place to step outside their comfort zone and try something new!

I have never been to a summer camp before. Will I feel left out?

No way! The first activity we do at Pride Camp is designed to allow campers to meet new people, and most of what we do is geared towards helping campers get to know their peers and make friends quickly. Going to camp for the first time can be scary, but there are tons of opportunities for campers to dive into things that truly interest them, and where they will find peers that enjoy the same things.

Register for Pride Camp!

We are so glad you want to be a counselor at Pride Camp this summer!

Counselors are not just leaders for campers, but serve as role models for LGBTQ and allied youth. As a counselor, you will make a real impact this summer by bringing your passion and energy to Pride Camp. Counselors gain valuable leadership training and skills through hands-on participation under the supervision of camp staff. Providing campers with a quality camp program means having a highly skilled staff who bring with them their warmth and enthusiasm for working with students. We are looking for a diverse group of counselors who share the common goal of providing the best camp experience possible to LGBTQ and allied youth. If you have lots of energy, enjoy both group and one-to-one interaction with campers, and have worked with youth before, this could be the role for you!

All Pride Camp counselors will understand and implement the following values for the duration of camp:


Behave with empathy and integrity. We are all leaders.


The results we produce reflect who we are. Take pride in being a counselor and the activities you participate in throughout the day. Encourage the campers you work with to be engaged in every aspect of Pride Camp


Laugh. Be positive and help campers feel affirmed and safe in their identity. That’s what Pride Camp is all about!

Who is Eligible to Be a Counselor?

Counselors are not just leaders for campers, but serve as role models for LGBTQ and allied youth. As a counselor, you will make a real impact this summer by bringing your passion and energy to Pride Camp. Counselors gain valuable leadership training and skills through hands-on participation under the supervision of camp staff. If you have lots of energy, enjoy both group and one-to-one interaction with campers, and have worked with youth before, this could be the role for you!

An ideal candidate will have the following experience and qualifications:

  • Be ages 19-24
  • Be currently enrolled in a post-secondary educational program
  • Knowledge and understanding of culturally specific needs of LGBTQ youth
  • Support the mission of Iowa Safe Schools
  • Proven ability to develop collaborative relationships
  • Passion about supporting a marginalized population including trans* and LGBTQ youth of color

Personal Qualities
An ideal candidate will be:

  • Committed to social justice and enthusiastic about Iowa Safe Schools’ mission and programs
  • Mature and demonstrate leadership skills, common sense, and good judgement
  • Enthusiastic about working to ensure that all campers are comfortable, safe and included
  • Well-organized, able to multi-task, and able to adapt to fast paced environments
  • Flexible and able to function independently and as a member of a team
  • Able to demonstrate a genuine interest in camper safety and well being
  • Able to accept guidance and supervision from staff

Additional Information

  • Trans and LGBTQ persons of color are encouraged to apply
  • Experience in working with children and youth preferred
  • Experience in STEM programming, leadership programming, or advocacy programming preferred

This is a temporary position available from June 11-14, 2018.

As a Pride Camp counselor, you will…

  • Supervise, guide, and provide support to up to 10 campers
  • Promote health and safety of every attendee
  • Work collaboratively to deliver an interactive program and to create an inclusive community
  • Serve as a positive mentor, leader, and role model
  • Collaborate, mediate, and intervene with camper issues
  • Adhere to and ensure that all camp expectations and procedures are consistently followed
  • Support activity leaders during track sessions, and other areas as directed
  • Work collaboratively to deliver an interactive program and to create an inclusive community
  • Participate in all camp activities with enthusiasm!
  • Know where campers are at all times
  • Attend mandatory counselor training on June 11th at Grand View University
  • Problem solve through situations and seek assistance when necessary
  • Be organized and punctual
  • Other duties as assigned

Apply to be a Camp Counselor!

  • Review all information on this website.
    Be sure to read through the expectations before submitting an application. All counselors are expected to be available to work the full length of Pride Camp (June 11-14, 2018).
  • Apply.
    Click the link on this page to begin your application. Make sure to fill the application out legibly and completely, and submit a signed release to perform a background check. We will not review incomplete applications. Once you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation email.
  • Contact your references.
    It is important that you contact your references to make them aware that you have completed an application to work at Pride Camp and that they should expect to hear from us by phone or email. Be sure to follow the instructions on the application about who can serve as a reference for you. We will not accept references from friends, family friends, or family members. The best references are employers, managers, teachers, and coaches who know your work ethic and character well.
  • We will email you within 1 week of receiving your application and begin calling your references. Once we receive your application, we will email you to let you know if we have available positions that match your skills and experience. If we do not feel that you are a good match for camp or if we do not have available positions, we may send you an email thanking you for applying and letting you know that we will not pursue your application further at that time. Again, it is not a good sign if your references are surprised to hear from us or don’t know who you are well enough to provide a reference for you.
  • Phone Interview. If your application shows promise for the position of camp counselor, we will reach out to set up a preliminary phone interview. Plan on this interview taking approximately 20-30 minutes to complete.
  • We will contact you by email within one week of your phone interview. If your preliminary interview is successful and we still feel that you may be a good fit for one of our available positions, we will email you to schedule a time for your second interview. We conduct the second interview using the live interview feature on Skype. The second interview will last approximately 30-45 minutes and is an important time to ask questions about camp and the expectations of the job. The second interview focuses on your past experiences and how they have prepared you for a job as a camp counselor. If you are not a good match for our program after the initial interview or if we do not anticipate having an available position that matches your skills, we may email you at this point to let you know that we will not pursue your application further.
  • Final hiring decision.
    We will contact you by email with our hiring decision. See the possible decisions below.
  1. Congratulations! You’re hired!
    We will send you a job description and a letter of agreement that
    details your position, dates of employment, and pay stipend. You will have one week to decide whether to accept the position and return the hiring paperwork.
  2. We do not have a position for you at this time.
    It is essential that we hire people who will be successful in our unique environment. We reserve the right to deny applications for any reason. We are happy to have a conversation with you to discuss the reasons for our decision and encourage you to apply again in a future summer.


All camp staff must complete an application, and pass a criminal history check. Counselors must attend the mandatory counselor training on June 11th.

As a counselor, your role is to supervise youth and facilitate icebreakers, conversation, and fun! During track time, you are responsible for assisting speakers and activity leaders, and ensuring that all campers in your track are engaged.

Please download and send the following forms to


Counselor Training Schedule**

8:15-8:45 AM                  Arrive at Grandview: Check in, room assignments, breakfast items.

8:45-8:55 AM                   Introductions

8:55-9:15 AM                    Ice-Breaker

9:15-10:15 AM                  Hand Out Folders, Break Into Tracks

Counselors break into their Track groups to define and discuss traits of each track, and what to expect at camp.

10:15-10:20 AM                Break

10:20-11:00 AM               Basic First Aid Training

11:00-11:30 AM                Lunch

11:30-12:15 PM                 Review Day 1 Schedule and Responsibilities within Tracks

12:15-1:00 PM                  Review Day 2 Schedule and Responsibilities within Tracks

1:00-1:05 PM                    Break

1:05-1:55 PM                     Review Day 3 Schedule and Responsibilities within Tracks

1:55-3:15 PM                     Common Camper Issues

Counselors will receive training on common issues that campers experience like: homesickness, conflict resolution, etc.

3:15-3:20 PM                    Break

3:20-3:50 PM                   Group Facilitation/Creating Safe Spaces

Counselors will receive training on facilitating discussions within Tracks and small groups of campers, and creating safe spaces for campers to discuss issues and feelings they have experienced as LGBTQ students.

3:50-4:15PM                     Campus Tour

4:15-5:00 PM                    Door Décor

Counselors will create door decorations for their campers’ rooms that affirm and celebrate the unique identities of each camper.

5:00-5:45 PM                    Leadership Training

5:45-6:30PM                     Dinner

6:30-7:00 PM                   Connecting with Campers

7:00-7:30 PM                  “What Would You Do” Scenarios Activity

Counselors will discuss with Iowa Safe Schools staff what they would do in different situations at camp, including regarding personal safety, rule-breaking, etc.

7:30-8:00 PM                  Group Cohesiveness Activity

An activity that creates a sense of belonging to a team, fosters trust and communication among counselors and staff

8:00-10:00 PM               Evening Activity

10:00-10:15 PM              Review Plans for Pride Camp: Day 1

10:15-10:30 PM              Get ready for bed

10:30 PM                         Lights Out!

**Schedule is tentative and subject to change.