+
Shira Berkowitz, camp indigo point, Daniel Bogard, Jewish summer camp, LGBTQ, trans

Rabbi Daniel Bogard (left) and Camp Indigo Point founder Shira Berkowitz (right).

Trans youth continuously have to fight for their right to exist in the world. Living in a country where states are actively working to dismantle rights and protections for trans children and their families is stressful for trans youth, a section of the population that has alarmingly high rates of attempted suicide. Whether it’s things like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, squabbles over which bathroom to use or banning trans kids from sports that fit their identified gender, these kids face a plethora of challenges on top of trying to just be kids. It’s imperative that there’s time for joy, friendship and feeling like they belong to counterbalance the negative messaging they’re receiving from the adults in charge.

Shira Berkowitz has answered the call to provide a place for LGBTQ+ children to feel like they belong. Berkowitz is one of the founders of Camp Indigo Point, a summer camp specifically for LGBTQ+ youth. The camp was inspired by their own experience as a camp program director—they were relieved of their duties after it was discovered that they were queer and the powers that be found it inappropriate for them to be a director for girls. Berkowitz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency it “was really harmful to my identity. I went back in the closet for a few years.”


Eventually Berkowitz went on to work at Camp Sabra, Missouri’s biggest overnight camp. They found the environment much more accepting, but the experience at the other camp continued to motivate them to build an even more inclusive community. Even though Camp Sabra is accepting, at the time it only employed two other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Berkowitz and a friend from Camp Sabra, Daniel Bogard—a rabbi and parent who is raising a transgender child—thought up the idea for Camp Indigo Point last year, around the time that Missouri introduced multiple anti-trans bills, several of which are aimed at children.

Daniel Bogard (left) and Shira Berkowitz (right, foreground) with teen advocacy group.

Courtesy of Shira Berkowitz

It felt important to Berkowitz and Bogard to have a place where trans kids could feel safe and accepted. Camp Indigo Point is open for one week in June. When registration opened, it filled up within weeks—93 children from 27 states have filled the available spots. There are currently more than 50 children on the waitlist and more than 130 people vying for the 29 staff positions available.

Camp Indigo Point isn’t only available to Jewish trans youth, it’s open to all LGBTQ+ youth in America. The lucky kids that will get to spend a week there will certainly be in for a treat, having a space designed just for them that allows them the freedom to simply be.

The ability to exist fully within yourself as you were meant to be is something that many people take for granted. At this camp, these kids will finally be able to focus on what summer camps are designed for: being silly and having fun.

Marlon Brando and Sacheen Littlefeather.

Nearly 50 years after Sacheen Littlefeather endured boos and abusive jokes at the Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is issuing a formal apology. In 1973, Littlefeather refused Marlon Brando's Best Actor Oscar on his behalf for his iconic role in “The Godfather” at the ceremony to protest the film industry’s treatment of Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Littlefeather is a Native American civil rights activist who was born to a Native American (Apache and Yaqui) father and a European American mother.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Pixabay

A father cradling his infant son.

It's almost impossible to be handed a baby and not immediately break into baby talk. In fact, it seems incredibly strange to even consider talking to a baby like one would an adult. Studies have shown that babies prefer baby talk, too.

Researchers from Stanford found that babies prefer to be spoken to in baby talk or “parentese” as scientists refer to the sing-songy cooing we do when talking to infants.

“Often parents are discouraged from using baby talk by well-meaning friends or even health professionals,” Michael Frank, a Stanford psychologist, told Stanford News. “But the evidence suggests that it’s actually a great way to engage with your baby because babies just like it–it tells them, ‘This speech is meant for you!’”

The big question that has eluded scientists is whether parentese is a universal language or varies by culture.

Keep ReadingShow less

Brandon Conway sounds remarkably like Michael Jackson when he sings.

When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, the pop music world lost a legend. However markedly mysterious and controversial his personal life was, his contributions to music will go down in history as some of the most influential of all time.

Part of what made him such a beloved singer was the uniqueness of his voice. From the time he was a young child singing lead for The Jackson 5, his high-pitched vocals stood out. Hearing him sing live was impressive, his pitch-perfect performances always entertaining.

No one could ever really be compared to MJ, or so we thought. Out of the blue, a guy showed up on TikTok recently with a casual performance that sounds so much like the King of Pop it's blowing people away.

Keep ReadingShow less