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Camp Ten Trees celebrates 10 years
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Camp Ten Trees celebrates 10 years

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

Camp Ten Trees
'We've Got Friends
'Round Here' fundraiser
April 10
Westin Hotel


On April 10, over 300 people gathered in the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle to attend the annual Camp Ten Trees fundraising dinner, auction and 10th anniversaty celebration. Magic was truly in the air as the 'We've Got Friends 'Round Here' fundraising dinner and auction immediately became something altogether more than a charity auction - it became like camp itself, as the sense of community was there, the experience felt new and unique, and the air itself began to taste sweet.

According to Airen Lydick, the program director for Camp Ten Trees, the numbers are still being crunched, but Airen is confident that they raised more than last year's $83,000 total.

The fundraiser opened with the Camp Ten Trees Summer Camp director Kerb Lydick singing a traditional Camp Ten Trees campfire song and inviting all former and current Camp Ten Trees campers to come on stage. The stage quickly became packed with young people, who flanked Kerb on all sides. Right there before everyone's eyes were the actual lives that have been touched by this wonderful and unique program.

Camp Ten Trees is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers yearly summer camp sessions, one for LGBTQ youth and their allies, and another for children of LGBTQ and/or non-traditional families.

"We've Got Friends 'Round Here" featured an excellent selection of silent auction items; more than 20 high-priced live auction items; relaxing ambient music courtesy of the Purple Passion Swing Band, the swing ensemble of Rainbow City Band; spoken word poetry; a touching story from Camp Ten Trees board member Robert Beatty; a special appearance by Shannel, who offered up six tickets for auction to her show, Le Faux, at Julia's on Broadway; and a fundraising dog sock puppet. There was truly something for everyone.

The Camp Ten Trees campers and counselors may be the core of the community, but the former campers and volunteers, the donors, and the board are also part of the Camp Ten Trees community on a profound level, and it was wholly felt by anyone at the auction. "It's a celebration more than a fundraiser," Airen told SGN.

"The first thing I think about when I think of the fact that it's the 10-year anniversary is talking to the folks that were around from the beginning and that 'wow' feeling I get," Airen told SGN. "I first got involved [as a volunteer] in October 2006, and I think of these folks that laid the groundwork that let it be possible."

Fundraising is an integral part of Camp Ten Trees in order to maintain its philosophy that every child, regardless of income, should be able to attend camp. The 10th anniversary marks the first complete transition of campers, as the youngest age group in the initial year will be "graduating" this year.

For more information on Camp Ten Trees, visit them online at www.camptentrees.org.

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