Published on June 3rd, 2011 | by Guest Author1
Summer Camp Trains Youth Activists for Social Change
Editor’s note: We tend to stay away from promotional posts… we figure that’s not what you expect at sustainablog. I decided to make an exception in this case because I think the concept is so innovative: a summer camp program that teaches kids how to work on the issues that matter to them. Thanks to YEA Camp founder Nora Kramer for submitting this to us.
Teenagers today may be the most well educated generation of youth in the history of our country when it comes to environmental and social issues. They were raised with a different “3 R’s” than their parents (reduce, reuse, recycle), and the Internet, especially Youtube and Facebook, that they’ve grown up with has given them unprecedented access to information at a young age: from the sources of their food, to nuclear meltdowns to different types of grassroots activism. While many young people are concerned about social issues and want to do something to address them, they may not have the support, training, role models, or confidence to do so. Enter Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp.
At YEA Camp, a week-long overnight camp with sessions in Northern California and Oregon, youth ages 12-17 choose an issue they care about and build the knowledge, skills, confidence, and community to make a difference on that issue. Surrounded by other young people who care about similar issues and staff who have years of experience in nonprofit and grassroots changemaking, YEA Camp makes it “cool to care” and helps campers choose for themselves how they want to contribute meaningfully to society, whether it be through modifying their daily actions to reduce their environmental impact, volunteering for local organizations, being an “armchair activist,” or organizing a club at school to get better recycling programs or vegetarian options in the cafeteria.
In addition to being in a supportive environment that builds their confidence and provides the encouragement of supportive friends and mentors, campers learn about environmental issues through watching “The Story of Stuff” and “The Meatrix,” as well as learning about Brower Youth Award winners, and learning from one another about different ways to help the planet. Campers also build skills to run effective school clubs, raise funds, use social media for social change, and think strategically about the root causes and creative solutions for their “issue of importance.” They also get connected to a nonprofit organization working on their issue and develop an action plan to make a difference when they get home.
Young people today do not deserve the “apathetic” label they are often given. When teens are put in an environment that encourages them to care and to take action on what they believe in, they step up and do amazing things they never thought they could.
If you’re looking for an inspiring and empowering summer experience for your child, visit www.yeacamp.org for more information. YEA Camp’s week-long sessions are held near Santa Cruz, CA, from July 23-29 and July 30-August 5, and near Portland, OR, running from August 7-14. Each week of camp costs $925, but sliding scale scholarships may be available.