Homestead Camp

In the midst of global, cultural and personal crises, My Summers of Love tells the personal story of my teenage quest for validation, identity and community. Through an unusual summer camp called Homestead, along with many young peers, I personally experienced a life-changing transformation.

Homestead was an extraordinary summer camp where teenagers bloomed.  Born out of the teachings of Unitarian Universalism,  Homestead’s unique ethos and philosophy was further shaped and championed by John Ertha, a charismatic, yet sometimes controversial African-American educator and civil rights activist. With minimal adult input, the approach that was championed by John Ertha, is sometimes described as “radical empowerment” . Based in part on A.S. Neill’s innovative Summerhill School – the model of the “Free School” movement of the 1960’s, Ertha was a bigger-than-life innovator in the camp-based youth development.  From my perspective,  the legacy of his innovative approach to youth development combined with some of the best aspects of Homestead continues to resonate in similar camps today. 

A place where teens and ‘tweens experienced personal empowerment

Imagine a non-conformist, “youth-run” summer camp on the banks of beautiful Lake Kanawaukee, in the verdant woods of Harriman State Park, NY,  where a hundred or more adolescents are free to create their own activities, programs and sometimes even… rules.  Perhaps most importantly, any youth who wanted an opportunity to do, try or create something was encouraged to “go for it”.

Telling My story

As a former Homestead counselor, my own adolescent journey of transformation becomes the jumping-off point in creating this intimate personal testament about youth empowerment as well as exploring the camp experience with its philosophical connections to the Unitarian Universalist movement.

Continuing the teachings today

It is my sincere belief, based on my own experience, that the best practices developed at Homestead, and continued at thriving summer youth communities like Unirondack,  and Homeward Bound (a camp serving homeless New York City pre-teens), can nurture healthy self-esteem and compassionate acceptance of peers that is so desperately needed by today’s youth. 

I have spent countless days and nights working on this project in order to share its vital message with you. This film is my long time, passionate labor of love. Now nearing the finish line, My Summers of Love, is currently in the final, post-production phase.

Help by donating AND spreading the word

I am positive that you will care about this film and this cause– and for the price of a few fancy coffees at Starbucks, you can help me, and you can help all the young people now who are going to participate in these transformative camps. So it is not a lot. For you it’s at least the cost of a venti or two, -or hopefully more.

During this final push, we do need your financial help  to cover editing, mastering, and distribution costs, so that this vital story can be effectively shared with the world. I will rely on you, and rely on your generous financial donations to support this worthy cause.

When you make a donation-  you can also enjoy a wide range of perks, including original music CDs, limited edition T-shirts, a deluxe commemorative DVD and even a beautifully illustrated children’s story book based on the film.

If you desire, a tax-deductible donation option is also possible via FilmNorth,  my sponsoring associated 501c3 non-profit fiscal agent

Please also help us spread the word by sharing our project with others who care about helping our teenagers navigate the extremely rough waters of our present-day world.

All proceeds benefit youth and youth summer camps

Any profits generated by this film after expenses are equally split between two charities: Camp Homeward Bound– founded over 30 years ago by Homestead alum Bob Behr, serving homeless NYC youth; and Camp Uniondack, which is a living example of the best of the Homestead, youth-affirming experience.

Thank you!