In Honor of #ThankfulThursday We Are Extra Grateful for Ed Yaffa!

225871_2060728360609_4093962_nAs part of our created new tradition of reflecting on who we are thankful for each Thursday, YEA Camp is extremely grateful for Ed Yaffa! Not only has Ed been a donor to YEA Camp and offered many great ideas and input to help us grow, Ed has helped keep our website up and updated, pro bono, and has kept us sane and calm even in moments where it would make sense to panic. (Ed likes to keep a low profile, so see one of his avatars here.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 1.34.46 PMEd is who we’ve reached out to with requests to make what we think is a “quick, simple” change on our website when we’ve needed something that is beyond our capabilities, only to find out that it’s 6 hours worth of work, which Ed did right away. Ed is who we call frantically when we think we know how to do something a little more complicated in updating our website, and then we realize all of the links to the site no longer work (yes, that happened – woops!), and he reassures us not to worry and fixes it right away. And Ed  prettied up our website, making it easier to navigate and easier on the eye.

Ed is a longtime committed activist and supporter of important causes, and so we feel all the more grateful that he has devoted so much time to helping YEA Camp in so many different ways. Thank you for everything, Ed! We are extremely thankful for you – and we promise after this past week not to bother you for a long time!

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Announcing Our New Dates, Location, and Some Big Firsts for YEA Camp in 2015!

10599131_10153103651729698_2761073829204412384_nAt YEA Camp, we love summer! After a couple weeks of rest at the end of August, we’re basically looking forward to summer for the rest of the year! And so, while it’s not yet Thanksgiving, we are already planning and are beyond thrilled to announce our 2015 dates, as well as a couple of big firsts for us!

As those who have followed us or been to YEA Camp know, YEA Camp has never been about one particular issue. YEA Camp is a summer camp for social change. Our campers and staff are passionate about many important, interconnected causes – from human rights to animal rights, climate change to feminism, bullying to poverty. Each camper chooses an issue they are passionate about it, and at YEA Camp they build knowledge, skills and confidence to make a difference on that cause. You can see almost daily updates on all the activism they’re doing on our Facebook page.

This year, for the first time, in addition to our regular ol’ life-changing sessions, YEA Camp is going to be offering a special session for campers who are all passionate about the same issue – or what we call their IOI, their Issue of Importance. This is a perfect fit for our new venue that we are thrilled to announce to you here!

1010139_1588148834747143_4059715614013437216_nThis summer, YEA Camp will be offering a session specifically for animal advocates. We will be holding this session August 9-16, 2015, at a perfect new location: the Epworth Center in High Falls, NY, which is the new home for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary! Learn more about this one-of-a-kind session here.

Our regular ol’ life-changing east coast session of YEA Camp for campers passionate about lots of different progressive issues will be held that week at this beautiful new property as well. We are thrilled to be at this amazing new venue! And of course we will still be offering our sessions at beautiful venues in northern California and Oregon.

  • IShro4nwbq2y550000000000-1-150x150YEA Camp Northern California: July 12-19
  • YEA Camp Oregon: July 25 – August 1
  • YEA Camp Upstate New York: August 9-16
    The NY dates will have 2 sessions:
    -a “regular” YEA Camp and
    -YEA Camp for Animal Advocates

Each session of YEA Camp is small, and space is limited and first-come, first-served. We are also offering last year’s pricing as a significant early bird discount until January 1, so check out the details and session that work best for you, or just go ahead and register! We expect all sessions to sell out, so please share with those who would want to know about us.

Looking forward to another amazing summer! We are already counting the days, and as of this writing the first session of YEA Camp is in just 235…!

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Announcing Our First Ever YEA Camp for Animal Advocates!

10421153_10153066909384698_2203082768185614677_n (1)From our first ever YEA Camp in 2009 to the 16(!) more sessions we have held since, YEA Camp has never been about one particular issue. We recognize the interconnectedness of social justice issues ranging from racism to climate change, poverty to war, and support campers in choosing an Issue of Importance (IOI) to them that they want to primarily focus on to make a difference.

10750488_10152770946435569_8003313019293510584_oWell, this year, while we will also have 3 regular ol’ amazing, life-changing sessions of YEA Camp from coast to coast, we are thrilled to also be offering a first-of-its-kind session of YEA Camp specifically for animal advocates!

Held at the incredible Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Upstate New York, campers will experience the same fun, inspiring, and informative activities at all YEA Camps while also focusing specifically on becoming the best advocates for animals they can be. The session will be from August 9-16, 2015, at the gorgeous Epworth Center in High Falls, NY, less than 2 hours from Manhattan.

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Campers at this unique session will:

  • learn the best ways to make a difference for animals through activism at school and in their community
  • meet and bond with some of the most dedicated young animal advocates in the country
  • receive mentorship from accomplished, adult animal-advocating role models
  • gain confidence in speaking up effectively in challenging situations
  • recognize the interconnections between animal rights and other social justice issues, like poverty, the environment, racism, and more.
  • 1010139_1588148834747143_4059715614013437216_ncare for neglected and abused animals at the sanctuary
  • become familiar with organizations around the country making a difference for animals
  • be inspired by all the progress being made and possibilities for helping animals!

Like at all sessions of YEA Camp, campers will have tons of fun and make great friends in a supportive community, recognize their ability to affect the problems in our world in a more positive way, and leave armed with an action plan to make a difference in their school or community.

And, like all sessions of YEA Camp, which are committed to modeling living peacefully and sustainably, campers will enjoy delicious mostly organic vegan meals – 3 meals, 2 healthy snacks, and an amazing dessert each day!

10628428_10152386090906843_8257477074446619749_n (1)We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring amazing young animal advocates together at YEA Camp for an inspiring and life-changing week to bring about a more compassionate world!

Of course, animal advocates will still get a ton out of attending any of the other sessions of YEA Camp — including the session in NY taking place at the same time — if those dates or locations work better, or if they’d rather be with a group of people passionate about many different issues versus focused primarily on one.

Space is limited at all of our sessions, and we’ve got a sweet Early Bird Discount until January 1, so now’s the time to learn more about YEA Camp, tell friends, and register for your best summer ever!

Can’t wait til the summer!!!

P.S. Check our site for more info if you’re interested in working at or volunteering with YEA Camp. We’ll start hiring in February.

 

 

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#ThankfulThursdays: YEA Camp Is Thankful for Sophie O’Shaugnessy

168261_494115567269_4638714_nSophie O’Shaugnessy loves YEA Camp about as much as YEA Camp loves her – which is to say A LOT! As a friend of YEA Camp’s founder Nora Kramer since the days when Nora was still working out the plans and developing the courage to launch, Sophie has championed YEA Camp since before it even existed – and she’s kept on championing us as we have grown. We are so thankful for her!

Sophie is committed to bringing about a better world, and she does her part everyday.1929188_1128302727531_2135554_n As a nurse practitioner working at a clinic with low-income patients, Sophie not only provides stellar medical care, she also provides holistic guidance encouraging her patients to eat more healthfully and sustainably. As a volunteer, she has launched fundraisers for Puppies Behind Bars, worked hard to get President Obama into office, has supported a youth empowerment program in Haiti, and has even given the powerful book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer to dozens of friends as gifts — among many other acts of change.

Every year YEA Camp has existed, Sophie has made a financial contribution to our work, but just as importantly, she offers her words and love to appreciate us with her gratitude and support for our efforts.

10662155_10205120090701663_1860584263039139631_oThank you so much for your continuous support of YEA Camp, Sophie, and for all you do to make our world a better place! WE LOVE YOU! YEA CAMP <3 SOPHIE!

Who are you grateful for? Share your #ThankfulThursday story!

 

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A New Tradition: #ThankfulThursdays! Giving Thanks for Ari Nessel

482990_10151162780596107_2119458584_nInstead of/in addition to Throwback Thusdays #tbt, YEA Camp is starting #ThankfulThursdays this month (and maybe beyond – feel free to join in!), and we can’t think of anyone more deserving of being our first honoree than Ari Nessel, a close friend who has supported YEA Camp since even before we launched our first camp in 2009!

Ari exemplifies everything YEA Camp aspires to be: compassionate, committed, generous, strategic, loving, effective, hard-working, humble, and full of heart. In addition to supporting YEA Camp and many other organizations, Ari is the founder and lead funder of the incredible The Pollination Project, which provides grants of $1000 every single day to inspiring changemakers around the world. (Learn more and apply here! And track his regular Huffington Post blog for inspiring updates!) Ari is also an incredible dad to two compassionate boys (future YEA Campers!!), a dedicated yogi and meditation practitioner, and green business owner.250395_10150259278571107_2926122_n

Over the years, we have written Ari many thank you notes and told him how thankful we are, but we can never thank him enough!

On behalf of all the campers and causes Ari has supported over the years, WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOU ARI!

***   YEA CAMP <3 ARI <3   ***

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Camper Profile: High Schooler Too Young to Vote Exemplifies Civic Engagement

10410747_625251384251176_4877658917510833795_nAna Little-Sana of San Diego is just 15 years old — to young to vote — but she wants you to know: ELECTION DAY IS ON TUESDAY!!! Ana is interning for Congressman Scott Peters and is devoted to his re-election. Peters is the Democratic incumbent running against Republican Carl DeMaio to represent San Diego’s district 52. Ana is a rockstar activist and involved in many causes. YEA Camp interviewed her to learn why she got so involved in the election and her experience on the campaign.

YEA: You’re not yet old enough to vote, yet you’ve been very active in trying to make a difference in this election. What inspired you to get involved in this type of activism? Why are you supporting Scott Peters?

Ana: When I left YEA Camp I had few intentions to pursue politics as part of my action plan, but there is a lot at stake in this election. Rep. Scott Peters is an advocate for women, students, and minorities and has a voting record I am confident representing. He has a 100% endorsement from the Sierra Club, the Humane Society, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign. To me this internship is not simply a way to earn community service hours or expand my resume, but rather truly make a difference in this election.

YEA: What are some of the things you are doing in your role on the campaign?

Ana: I live and breathe this election. In the office I phone bank, ID voters, and do miscellaneous jobs. I also canvass precincts. I am lucky I don’t get abused as an intern. No coffee runs or foot massages. Outside of the office I work on informing people about the election. Many are pretty oblivious to what’s going on. I also have registered people to vote. It’s super easy, and you can even do it online.

YEA: Youth under 18 don’t get to vote and so don’t have a direct say to influence our leaders. Yet, what responsibility do you think our government has to young people?

Ana: So many of the policies Congress creates will impact my generation the most. From college loans, to choice legislation to taxes, Congress is drafting the bills that could potentially change the way we live. While I am fortunate to work alongside a TON of youth, it’s pretty discouraging how inactive my peers are in politics. If we aren’t our own voice, who will be?

YEA: What have you learned about our political process or activism in general from your experience on this campaign?

Ana: I have learned so much this campaign. I have found people who spend their lives advocating for the very causes I want to spend my life fighting for. I spend my days in an office with activists, advocates, and students. It’s pretty great.

YEA: What other types of activism have you done or do you do?10743400_627303914045923_831931710_n

Ana: I do a lot. My issues of interest focus around human/labor rights, animal rights, women’s/reproductive rights, and environmental issues. If I am not protesting, I am working on one activism cause or another. I actually got this internship by talking to people at a protest.

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YEA: What would you say to other people considering getting involved in activism?

Ana: Activism has given my life so much purpose and it brings me so much joy. Activism is making intentional changes to help make changes in our world. It isn’t all or nothing.

YEA: How has YEA Camp helped you in your activism?

Ana: YEA Camp gave me the confidence I needed to put myself out there. The world can be a mean place and having a week where everyone told you how awesome you are was so special.

If you are inspired by Ana (how could you not be??!), find out more about the candidates in your area at VoteSmart.org and click the links above to see politicians’ scorecards from environmental, women’s, LGBT, and animal advocacy organizations. Then, to get involved in critical national races in the next few days before the election, please visit MoveOn.org or other group to make calls and get out the vote!

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Camper Profile: 15-year-old Ofzerna : Too Young to Vote But Not to Make a Difference

10175020_773594119352401_6919477996118053890_nWith the extremely important midterm elections approaching, 15-year-old Ofzerna from Northern California knew she had to get involved.

Ofzerna has been vegetarian since she was 4 years old (even though her parents aren’t) and is a passionate advocate for women’s rights and gay rights, among other causes she cares a lot about. She’s not old enough to vote, but that doesn’t mean she can’t get involved in the election!

Ofzerna attended our California camp in 2013, and we interviewed her this week to find out more about how young people can be involved in the political process, and hopefully inspire you to get more active too! You can get involved with a local candidate your support, or make calls from home to influence important races around the country.

YEA: You’re not yet old enough to vote, yet you’ve been very active in trying to make a difference in this election. What inspired you to get involved in this type of activism? Why are you supporting the candidate(s) you’re volunteering or interning for?

Ofzerna: What inspired me to get involved in this election is my belief that working within the government through the political process we can effect positive change. I am volunteering for Tim Sbranti for State Assembly because the race is very close, Tim is a great guy who supports the same positions as me, and his opponent is a very anti-union Republican. In addition, I am volunteering for NARAL Pro-Choice California because I think it is vital that we preserve women’s access to safe abortions and support candidates who share that belief.

YEA: What are some of the things you are doing in your role on the campaign?

Ofzerna: Some things that I do as a campaign volunteer are walk precincts, going door to door talking to voters, as well as phone banking and making sure people remember to vote.

YEA: Youth under 18 don’t get to vote and so don’t have a direct say to influence our leaders. Yet, what responsibility do you think our government has to young people?

Ofzerna: I think that the government has a responsibility to young people to ensure that they get quality educations, are in safe environments, and are adequately provided for. Beyond this, everything the government and our leaders do has a direct effect on the future we young people will inherit and they have to make sure they don’t mess things up too badly for us.

YEA: What have you learned about our political process or activism in general from your experience on this campaign?

Ofzerna: I have learned a lot about which politicians are genuine and care about the people they serve and those who only care about the advancement of their career. Volunteering for campaigns has also shown me just how much work goes into small, grassroots campaigns and confirmed for me that I want to major in political science and continue to be involved in politics.

YEA: What other types of activism have you done or do you do?

IMG_0330Ofzerna: Other than volunteering for campaigns, I have interned for a LGBTQ youth non-profit called LYRIC, started an LGBTQ support group in my school, created a successful petition to a large company, and organized a protest at a Hobby Lobby store opening.

YEA: What would you say to other people considering getting involved in activism?

Ofzerna: I would say that getting involved is incredibly rewarding and worth doing.

YEA: Between school, homework, and everything else on your plate, how do you make time to volunteer?

Ofzerna: It can be challenging to fit volunteering in since I have high school classes and take community colleges classes in addition, but I fit volunteering in by making it a priority and planning ahead about when I want to do it so that I can get my work done in advance and not have to stress.

YEA:  How has YEA Camp helped you in your activism?

Ofzerna: YEA Camp has helped me in my activism by giving me the confidence that I can create change and teaching me how to go about doing it.

We are so proud of Ofzerna and all of our other campers for the amazing ways they are making a difference in their community and our world! Let’s all step up our game and make an even bigger difference!

To see more inspiring things our campers are doing, follow us on Facebook.

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