Meet some of the staff who will be at camp :
Liz Schmidt, Camp Director, Planning Team she/her
Hello! I have over 30 years of camp experience, starting as a camper when I was 5 (!) to being the Director of Camps for Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways now! I can’t wait to meet your campers and help them have the best summer of their lives!
Tina, Assistant Camp Director, Planning Team she/her
Tina has been a queer rights advocate and activist for 30 years. Tina’s experience includes the creation of social and support groups for LGBTQ+ youth, running comprehensive sexuality education programs, and organizing numerous conferences for youth and adults on LGBTQ+ topics. Tina previously worked for the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center in Portland OR and currently works as the Director of Lifespan Faith Development for First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse. Tina is passionate about working with queer youth, building community and being outdoors.
Melissa, Accessibility and logistics, Planning Team they/them
Melissa is an agender, queer, disabled person. Melissa has 20 years of experience working with LGBTQ+ youth, volunteer management, and doing community education. They previously worked for Basic Rights Oregon leading a transgender advisory group and a youth advisory council. Melissa is a fierce advocate for trans and disabled youth and adults. In their spare time, Melissa enjoys creating beautiful art from LEGO bricks
CB, Small group leader, Planning Team they/them
CB is a white, queer, mostly able-bodied fat genderqueer person. They have been opposing racism, homophobia, transphobia and other systemic oppression for 40 years. CB believes healthy boundaries and meaningful consent in every day life is something that will change the world. CB grew up in the 60s and 70s in the Adirondacks and is committed to creating safety, joy, and a brave space for rural queer youth to live and grow and express themselves.
Shannon, Cabin Counselor, Planning team She/her
Shannon loves studying how people of all ages find belonging and create and care for community. Her work is dedicated to creating spaces for young people to explore who they are and how they fit in this wild world. She is passionate about all things aquatic and plans her travel around what bodies of water she can dip her toes in. Her most favorite job ever was teaching arts and crafts for after school and summer programs in her community.
Emery, Cabin Counselor, Planning Team he/him/they
Emery brings 25 years of experience as a director and collaborator in nonprofit cultural, literary, and performing arts organizations. He served as Deputy Director of Stonewall National Museum & Archives (SNMA), a museum, library, and archive of American LGBTQ history and culture, where for eight years he specialized in events programming, museum exhibitions, and community engagement with LGBTQ themes. Emery is an out trans man, living in Northern New York, who is passionate about engaging people of all ages with LGBTQ history and culture as essential parts of affirming the value of LGBTQ experiences and celebrating our resilience.
Chris, Cabin Counselor, Planning Team they/them
Chris is an Art History Professor at Onondaga Community College and a life-long LGBTQ+ advocate! In addition to serving as OCC’s campus LGBTQ+ Program Coordinator, Chris facilitates Safe Space and Trans/GNC training events for businesses, organizations, and parent groups in the CNY region. Chris also designs and consults on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) crisis management strategies for leadership teams of K-12 educational programs. On their own time, Chris enjoys the changing seasons of upstate NY, sculpting, swimming, traveling through Italy, and spending time with their spouse and ever-growing menagerie of adopted animals! Our newest addition is a polydactyl kitten with 27 toes and counting!
Dominick, Mental wellness coordinator (he/they)
Dominick is a trans masculine individual who greatly enjoys his work with youth as a mental health therapist. Dominick loves being at summer camp, and especially enjoys archery and rock climbing! This will be Dominick’s 12th year working at a camp. He likes hiking, snowboarding, and overall just being outside. Dominick loves being around his 5 fur babies (3 cats names Remus, Tonks and Luna, and 2 dogs names Jasper and Alice)! He also loves anything to do with softball, rugby, reading, and world traveling. If you see him at camp, ask him where he’s been!
Laura Evonne, Art Educator She/they/laura evonne
Bio coming soon
Krowka (Kroofka), Therapy cat She/her
Krowka is an almost 17 year old therapy cat who will be in the art building waiting for your adoration. She loves being outdoors lying in the sunshine.
Sean, Cabin Counselor He/him
Sean identifies as a gay, cis male. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, Sean now lives in New York City, New York. He currently works as a Senior Academic Advisor at New York University which has only furthered his love for helping others find their passions in life. Over his career and schooling he has worked in many different settings and always strived to help build accepting and inclusive environments where all are welcomed. He can’t wait to begin this new experience with all of our campers!
Izzy, Cabin Counselor They/she
Izzy is a Pansexual demigirl who currently works as a crisis counselor. They have worked as a social worker for 9 years. She has worked at multiple camps previously and even organized an art centered camp with her mom. Izzy loves to do any kind of art including painting and miniatures. Izzy especially loves giant robots specifically transformers, and she has a large collection of them. She has 2 cats and a little dog who are like their babies. She currently lives in Albany with her fiance Beth.
KT, Cabin Counselor they/them
Hi, I am a non-binary, panromantic, asexual, short person. I grew up going to camp, and have spent twelve summers as an (alleged) grown-up at camp. I live in CNY now, but am originally from rural Pennsylvania. I spend the school year working with young people with special needs and teaching swimming lessons. I enjoy healing crystals and snuggling with my three cats, Phineas, Fiona, and Gertie. I can’t wait for camp!
Jess “River”, Cabin Counselor they/them
Jess “River” grew up in rural Maryland, running around a friend’s farm, swimming in the creek and picking wine-berries and mulberries. They also lived in England as a child and young adult, and spent summers with their grandparents in the Netherlands. They are about to start a new job at Wells College in the Women’s, Transgender, and Queer Studies Department, and will be moving to New York from Indiana this summer. In their spare time they like to make collages, go hiking with their partner, Indigo, and dog, Pippin, and go paddle-boarding. Their favorite bird is a cedar waxwing, and their favorite color is purple.
Sara, Cabin Counselor she/her
Sara is a bisexual cis woman who resides in the Connecticut river valley of western Massachusetts, also known as Nonotuck/Norwottuck, on the unceded homelands of the Pocumtuc people. Sara loves board games, video games, karaoke, coffee, dessert, caring for her houseplants, and playing D&D with her friends. She has made a home with her nonbinary partner and their cat, Marquis. Sara is deeply excited to be working in a camp setting for the first time! She attended the same summer camp for 8 years when she was younger, which is sadly no longer in operation. She is excited to be playful and goofy around others, and foster an environment that creates intentional inclusivity.
Valentín, Cabin Counselor (they/them)
Valentín is a Pansexual/Trans, Salvadoran-American, Teaching Artist and community worker based in Philadelphia. They are super pumped to bring their experience in therapeutic arts in rehabilitation and within the immigrant/undocumented community to camp! Valentín is humbled to be a healthy adult role model to campers and show up in ways they needed as a queer youth; they are excited to return to the outdoors, having spent a lot of time in their youth and time abroad climbing volcanoes, parts of the Appalachian Trail, cycling, kayaking, stargazing, and RV/tent camping. Valentín is looking forward to creating lasting memories with fellow queers in nature through an artistic lens.
Audey, Cabin Counselor they/them
Audey works at a child and family services agency in Athens, Georgia. They also volunteer, furthering Immigrant rights and social justice causes. Audey has taught theatre camps in the past and now shares their theatrical flair through drag. They enjoy nature, foraging, and handicrafts of all kinds. Audey looks forward to sharing their knowledge and talents with the campers!
Cheyenne, Cabin counselor (they/she)
Cheyenne currently lives in Syracuse with their partner and cat Garbanzo, but will be moving back to NYC to work as a playwright and develop LGBTQIA+ after school programs for youth in middle school. Cheyenne has a background in theater and dance, and really enjoys telling stories and creating new work with others. Cheyenne has always been avid reader and was given the camp nickname “Bookworm” when she was little. They enjoy cooking with their partner and learning about new foods and has been a vegetarian for 10 years.
Kris, Cabin Counselor, They/He
Kris is a non binary, queer camp enthusiast! He grew up on the ocean in Rhode Island, and enjoys many outdoor activities. From hiking, and camping, to nature observing and horseback riding, they love it all! Kris also enjoys arts and crafts, music, games, and super corny jokes.- the sillier the better! This will be Kris’s 12th summer serving as a camp counselor. When he isn’t at camp, you can find Kris snowboarding the mountains by winter, or hanging out with any of his 5 fur babies: 3 cats and 2 dogs! You can also find Kris at his day job, serving as a behavioral health technician in an elementary school, counseling children. Kris cannot wait to meet new people, and is looking forward to a wonderful camp experience this summer!
Ashley, Cabin Counselor (She/Her)
Ashley has spent the last 3 years as a teacher in the Syracuse City School District. She is well versed in mental health advocacy from personal experience and a focus on child psychology in college. Her passions outside of working with queer neurodivergent youth include bird watching, painting, puzzles, and trivia. Ashley identifies as a cis gender lesbian and is so excited to be a part of such an inclusive program.
Franklin, Cabin counselor (They/Them)
Franklin is a white, nonbinary, neurodivergent, Quaker. Pathologically social, Franklin has loved working with youth since they were one themself. At various times, Franklin has worked with former street youth in Nicaragua, taught Theatre of the Oppressed to high school and college students, hosted karaoke, facilitated Alternatives to Violence workshops in prisons, worked as an inclusion facilitator at an after school program, and been a member of a children’s theater company. Originally from the Albany area, they’ve lived in Vermont and the Boston area for most of their adult life, but moved to Syracuse last year to be with their partner. As a theater kid, Franklin always spent all summer at a theater day camp. They are therefore very excited, as an adult, to experience sleep away summer camp for the first time.
Laura, Cabin Counselor, they/them
Laura is an ordained clergyperson in the United Church of Christ originally from Bethalto, Illinois. They currently serve as Assistant Chaplain at Moravian University where they work at the intersection of queerness and spirituality. They provide LGBTQ+ education, Safe Zone trainings and facilitate queer spirituality small groups for students on campus – among other programming! They have loved camp since they were little and are so excited to come be part of the community at Camp Beyond Binary. Laura currently lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with their wife, 13 year old, three dogs and has a baby on the way!
Brenna, Cabin counselor, she/her
Brenna is a trans women living in central New York with her daughter. She’s been a cabin counselor for middle and high aged folks for many summers and loves creating spaces queer folks can feel comfortable in. Brenna enjoys the outdoors, quality goof off time, and also signs ASL conversationally!
Nika, Kitchen she/her
Hello! I’m Nika! I’m a pansexual, trans woman chef who speaks German! I believe one of the best ways of connecting with each other is through eating together and I’m happy to contribute my skills to building togetherness as well as healthy, delicious eating! Dietary restrictions are a serious priority of mine I’m here to listen and to accommodate anything you might need! Es freut mich euch kennenzulernen! (It’s a pleasure to meet you!)
Nash, Kitchen Assistant he/him
Nash is so excited to be able to help everyone be all fueled up for a great week at camp as an assistant in the kitchen! A rising senior with double majors in Environmental Science and Women, Transgender, and Queer studies at Wells College, his life-long goal is to open his own camp for LGBTQ+ kids. When he isn’t in the kitchen helping make sure everyone has something great to eat, or getting “lost” in the forest, he could be found buried in yet another book! He can’t wait to see what Camp Beyond Binary is Cooking up!
Meet some more of our planning team:
Hello! My name is Cam, I am one of the youth on the planning team. I identify as non-binary and pansexual. Helping with the creation of this camp has been a super awesome experience. Community is very important to me, especially for queer youth. I’ve participated in a few LGBTQ+ activities like walking in the pride parade and attending Gay Straight Alliance in my school. I hope to continue growing my education and participation in queer events and am so excited to watch this camp grow!
Hi! I am Mia. I grew up with two moms and I identify as pansexual. I love animals and art and theater. I have enjoyed being on the planning team and I am excited about camp.
Toby was born and raised in Syracuse and loves the weather here. He is an artist, writer, and gardener with nearly two decades’ professional experience in education and has been involved in movement organizing since childhood, particularly in the areas of environmental justice, racial justice, and disabled and queer rights.
Who are we?
The planning team is a diverse group of people dedicated to creating a space where LGBTQ+ youth can be themselves and grow into their leadership strengths. Julie Dale, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts NYPENN Pathways, Inc, saw the need for such a safe space in Upstate New York. She approached Tina and Melissa, community members with a combined experience of over 50 years in social justice and organizing LGBTQ+ youth. Together, we recruited community members and organizations to the planning team.
At Camp Beyond Binary one of the things that is important to us is that youth have a voice. Right from the start we have involved LGBTQ+ youth in the planning of this camp. We held a focus group to create a list of needs and begin brainstorming ideas about what the youth wanted a camp like this to be. From that focus group a few youth stepped into leadership roles and lent their voices to help plan programming, come up with ideas for a logo and names for the camp. As our camp grows we hope more youth will join our planning and step into leadership roles.
Wide based support:
Girl Scouts NYPENN Pathways
GLSEN Upstate Syracuse
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
The Shaw Harbor Foundation, A Charitable Fund of the Northern New York
United Way of Broome County
Q Center Syracuse