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A few words from Black Oak Wilderness School

Sophiah, my little cousin, was the person who inspired me to come out as queer. When she came out, I learned that I wasn't alone in my family, and I built the courage to tell my parents and the public that I was bisexual and gender non-conforming. She lived in a different state and had a different life; we rarely saw one another, but she impacted me so much, and for that, I will be forever grateful. In 2020 Sophiah and her partner were killed in a tragic car accident. The last time I saw her was at a family reunion, and I thankfully got the opportunity to tell her how much that small act of bravery on her part had meant to me. She was a few years younger than me, but I looked up to her and her ability to always be her authentic self. She was a tattoo artist, and we made plans for her to tattoo me in exchange for me teaching her some survival skills. Soph spent a lot of time outdoors with her family, hiking, floating on rivers, kissing trees, or just chilling in hammocks. It was clear that nature was one of Soph's many happy places. She had so many comfortable places because she was immensely loved and supported by her family.


For these reasons, we would like to create Sophiah's Fund, a full-ride scholarship for LBGTQIA+ youth to either one of our weeks of summer camp or our youth mentorship program, Fox Walkers. We know that the world is not always kind to queer and trans youth, and not everyone is lucky enough to have the kinds of support that Sophia did, and I do. We also know that being in nature surrounded by mentors, instructors, and other students who share a life experience with you can be a lifesaving experience. We don't want the cost of the program to limit any student. $3200 is one full-ride or several partial ride scholarships, but the more we raise, the more students we support. Consider donating even a few dollars to this worthiest of causes.


Dane Nelson

Executive Director of Black Oak Wilderness School

A California Nonprofit Outdoor Education Organization

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