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.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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