A personal documentary about youth empowerment and the transformative potential of summer camps.

In the midst of global, cultural and personal crises, My Summers of Love tells personal stories of the 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 camp-based youth development. The legacy of his innovative approach to youth development combined with some of the best aspects of Home-stead continues to resonate in similar camps today. Check out our Indiegogo site to learn more and support this important project: https://igg.me/at/mysummersoflove/x/29657755#/

A place where teens and 'tweens experienced personal empowerment

Imagine a non-conformist, “ youth  run” summer camp on the banks of a beautiful lake, in the verdant woods of a state park, 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.” As a former Homestead counsellor, 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.

Help by donating AND spreading the word!

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 labour of love. Now nearing the finish line, My Summers of Love, is currently in the final, post-production phase. Check out our Indiegogo site to learn more and

support this important project: https://igg.me/at/mysummersoflove/x/29657755#/

Continuing the movement today

I am positive that you will care about this film and this cause– and 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, our sponsoring associated 501c3 non-profit fiscal agency. 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! Don Strong, Filmmaker


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