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The Pony Barnes Foundation is dedicated to supporting camp experiences that promote belonging and connections for LGBTQ youth and their families.


Our Vision

Camps, community, connections.


As we serve LGBTQ+ youth and their families in our mission, we do so following our key values: community, acceptance & belonging, learning, and leadership.


We believe in a camp community that fosters a welcoming, inclusive environment where all people can thrive. One that:

  • Appreciates each person’s inherent worth

  • Preserves dignity

  • Recognizes the unique value each individual brings to relationships

  • Cultivates a deep sense of belonging within a group of peers

  • Prioritizes collaborative relationships

  • Motivates a collection of transformational connections



We believe that camp experiences promote personal development and growth, and that as individuals learn new skills, they also learn about themselves and their identities, strengthening self-acceptance. Acceptance connects us to ourselves, to one another, to friends and families, to our communities, and to our world creating a vital sense of belonging. We recognize:

  • The value in personal acceptance

  • Self-acceptance allows a person to make room for curiosity and exploration

  • Shared experiences in an affirming environment create a pathway to community acceptance and a feeling of belonging

  • When differences are accepted it feels safer to be a work in progress

  • Building authentic connections through belonging helps us feel valued, needed, accepted, and connected, allowing us to thrive as a whole person

  • Participating in a community bonded by attitudes, values, and goals is an essential ingredient to enjoying a fulfilling life



We believe that the best camps support curiosity, discovery, and connection by providing an experiential learning environment. An environment that:

  • Prioritizes exploration, learning, and growth as fundamental to self-confidence and human flourishing

  • Empowers a spirit of positivity and encouragement for personal growth

  • Engages youth to actively learn from one another through shared experiences

  • Honors personal choice as a way to pursue interests and passions

  • Encourages taking a risk to try something new and unfamiliar in a safe space

  • Creates opportunity to build relationships with those that might be different

  • Impacts communication and connections through collaboration

  • Inspires enthusiasm that fosters a love of learning



We believe in camp leadership experiences that stimulate self-confidence, empowerment, autonomy, and connections with others. We believe that supporting youth leadership offers young people the opportunity to develop social skills, work collaboratively with others, share ideas and perspectives, and influence positive change. Leadership thrives when camps:

  • Build safe, supportive, and trust forward cultures where differences are respected and appreciated

  • Cultivate relationships with strong adult mentors who have the ability to carry out positive, purposeful interactions with young people

  • Understand that reinforcement, acknowledgement, and meaningful feedback promotes personal growth and bolsters confidence

  • Allow young people the space to lead as they practice sharing their knowledge, talents, and skills while developing confidence in their abilities

  • Recognize that everyone has leadership potential, whether they lead best from the front of the room, within a collaborative group, or from the back of the pack

  • Proactively encourage problem-solving and teamwork as essential to building a sense of purpose, belonging, and resilience

  • Realize that leadership opportunities empower youth to advocate for themselves, their families, and their community

  • Motivate and inspire lifelong leadership journeys that contribute to impacting a larger good                

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