All We Can Say Is WOW!

WOW! What an incredible summer!

We say it every year, and every year it is true! This was our best summer yet!

With Labor Day gone and, with it, the symbolic end to summer, we are still basking in the accomplishments of our seventh(!) year of epic, life-changing summer camps.

It is impossible to capture in a blog post, but we will try to expand on “WOW!” with a few highlights, outcomes, and testimonials from the campers themselves.

Who, What, When, Where, Wow

  • We reached more campers than ever before this summer. Almost 100 youth ages 11-17 came from 16 different states and the District of Columbia to attend.
  • We held our first ever issue-specific camp, YEA Camp for Animal Advocates, at the incredible new location ofWoodstock Farm Sanctuary, less than 2 hours from Manhattan, attracting extremely committed and accomplished young advocates such as 14-year-old Avalon from Florida, the founder of the nonprofit Conserve It Forward, and 16-year-old Phoebe from California, “PETA’s Coolest Vegan Alive,” as well as up-and-coming advocates who are just getting started on their activist path.
  • Our staff was incredible – from Michael Starkey, a wildlife biologist with Save the Frogs in Central America, to Chloe Falkenheim, the 18-year-old founder of VegYouth, to Charles Orgbon, the CEO of the youth-run nonprofit Greening Forward, to so many more incredible adult mentors — classroom teachers, nonprofit organizers, and all-around do-gooders in life — thrilled to support younger advocates.
  • Campers from our California and Oregon sessions this summer have already had a reunion that they initiated! Some have also met up to go leafleting, tabling, and protesting; launched fundraisers; launched clubs at their school; and been extremely active on the causes they care about in ways they had never done before YEA Camp. More on that below.

YEA Camp exposes teens
to things they may never learn elsewhere.

A few key things campers learned that they may never have otherwise learned without YEA Camp:

  • Each of us has a huge capacity to bring about change, and we can’t allow limiting beliefs we have about ourselves or negativity that others may project on to us to hold us back.
  • The interconnection of seemingly unrelated social justice issues — from animal advocacy to poverty, pollution to racism – expanding their understanding of the challenges we face and their deepening their desire and ability to help.
  • Skills like grassroots outreach, campaign planning, fundraising, arts activism, and time management.
  • Nonviolent communication techniques to connect with people and to feel more confident speaking with those who disagree — inspiring people to want to learn more versus nagging or judging them for being uninformed.
  • Tools to inspire others to get involved and examples of ways that current activists and those throughout history have brought about change.
  • Self-care approaches to cope with the injustices of our world and the difficulty of bringing about the change we want.
  • They are not alone. There are many other people and organizations who care as much as they do and who want to support them in making a difference.

 What Campers Say:

“My time here this past week has shaped my life in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. It opened my heart and mind to what I can do to help the world we live in, and gave me tools to fight for my cause.” – Ollie, 14, NJ

“This has been one of the best experiences of my life — for the confidence I have gained, the friends I have made, and the change I know I will make.” -Eva, 14, NY

“This camp has helped me feel so confident and empowered. As someone who has struggled feeling confident and worthy, this camp changed my whole life. Going home I will be focusing on combatting the unrealistic harmful view on body image as well as gender roles by helping middle schoolers and others feel good.” -Ashley, 16, Oregon

“YEA Camp was an amazing experience for me. I have acquired the skills that I need to change the world for the good. I used to be shy and did not want to speak up, but YEA Camp has taught me to speak up. I feel good about myself, like I can change the world.” -Angel, 12, Oregon

“YEA Camp has been an amazing and life-changing experience for me. I have had so much support and learned so many things about important issues such as animal rights, LGBTQ rights, sexism, racism, and gender identities…. I am so incredibly thankful for all that I have learned and experienced at this camp.” -Carolyn, 14, California

Most Importantly, What Campers Have Done:

SO MUCH! We love to celebrate our campers’ many accomplishments! Here is just a small sampling of the things our campers have told us they have done in the short time since camp ended.

  • Many campers have gone leafleting for their first time ever, passing out flyers on causes they care about. They have reported having great experiences! Here, Maya and Luzia met up to pass out leaflets about reproductive choice, vegetarianism, and their favorite presidential candidate: Bernie Sanders. Five other campers met up at a talk Bernie Sanders gave and passed out leaflets there!
  • Orianna, 14, from a conservative part of California, reached out to a former teacher who has agreed to allow her to teach his elementary students a 20-minute class once a week on gender roles! She is bringing in toys, asking them which are for boys and which are for girls and why, having them analyze media, and having them learn about and deconstruct stereotypes.
  • Twelve-year-old Zinn testified at an Oregon Department of Agriculture hearing to oppose the  expansion of dairies in the state.

  • Seven YEA Campers joined in a huge protest at the zoo to advocate for elephants.
  • A group of YEA Campers from NY are fundraising for Farm Sanctuary’s annual Walk for Farm Animals, and all together campers from around the country have fundraised over $2,000!
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Our campers are on fire, and we can’t wait to see the incredible changes they bring about in their communities. We will be sharing more here and on our Facebook and Instagrampages. Please check them out!


Getting to actually spend the summer at YEA Camp in such a space of inspiration and community is such a joy — and it would not be possible without the efforts and contributions of so many people.

To all of our amazing campers, THANK YOU for being your amazing selves! You inspire all of us that our world can change and is changing for the better!

To our campers’ parents and families, THANK YOU for trusting us with your children and supporting their efforts to change the world!

To our incredible staff, THANK YOU for everything you did — from helping a camper with their action plan to doing the dishes — to make this summer so incredible.

To everyone who donated money toward our scholarship funds and operations, THANK YOU for making it possible for us to exist and to help so many young leaders along on their path.

To all of the companies who donated incredible food, THANK YOU for helping us eat so well, and for your contributions that made it possible for us to keep our costs down so we could accept campers on scholarship who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have the opportunity to attend.

To everyone who volunteered their time in any way, the organizations and individuals who helped spread the word about YEA Camp, offered advice or kind words of support, THANK YOU. You help us keep going when things feel hard.

We will be announcing our 2016 dates and plans in the coming months, but in the meantime, THANK YOU for everything you do to make our world a better place!

With so much appreciation,

Nora + Team YEA Camp

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Disney Star Calum Worthy Is YEA Camp’s New Celebrity Spokesperson!

BIG NEWS! We officially have a celebrity spokesperson! And he’s awesome!

CalumWorthyYEA Camp is thrilled to announce that Calum Worthy, best known from Disney Channel’s hit show “Austin & Ally,” is our new celebrity spokesperson! See the official press release below.

In addition to his work as an actor, writer, and producer, Calum is extremely committed to making our world a better place through his environmental advocacy with Climate Reality Project, efforts to help children with cancer, raise money for ALS, advocate for gay rightsspeak out against bullying, and more.

When Calum learned about YEA Camp‘s program to train teens to get active making a difference on a social justice cause they are passionate about, the first question he asked us was “How can I help?” We love that question!

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 9.38.57 PMWith summer just around the corner and a few last spots still open for motivated 12-17 year-olds at each session, we hope some young changemakers will learn about YEA Camp through Calum’s involvement and join us this summer! Please share this story with any Calum lovers out there! (He has 800,000+ Twitter followers, and you probably know some of them! :)

News outlets that cover celebrities have already done stories on Calum joining the team, including Brave New Hollywood, Fanlala and Broadway World.

And our campers are already so excited to see that Calum is supporting us!

When Joyce, 15, from New Jersey, saw the news, she said “This is amazing, he is amazing, YEA Camp is amazing, and I’m proud to be a YEA Camp alumni!!!” Alayna, 13 from Kansas, said “Oh my goodness! That is awesome! YEA Camp is getting its very well deserved attention!”

YEA Promo - Jump GroupWe are so grateful to have the support of such a committed, talented, and kind person such as Calum. Want to know why he’s so excited about YEA Camp? Visit to learn more about our summer camp for social change. YEA Camp is just around the corner, with sessions in California, Oregon, and New York, and campers from all over the country flying in to attend, so hurry up and get registered today!

See the official press announcement below.

Calum Worthy Named National Celebrity Spokesperson for Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp

Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally” Star Champions Summer Camp for Youth Activists
LOS ANGELES, CA (June 23, 2015) – Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is thrilled to announced that Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally” star Calum Worthy has been named National Celebrity Spokesperson for this summer’s innovative leadership camps for youth ages 12-17.  A life-changing camp for world-changing teens founded in 2009, YEA Camp has helped hundreds of teens and tweens learn how to get involved and make a difference on the social cause of their choice.

“I’m thrilled to work with YEA Camp to let young people know that they can make a difference on the environment, bullying, human rights, animals rights, and so many other important causes,” said Calum Worthy.  “There’s so much we can all do to make our world a better place.”

Teens from across the country will be spending a week this summer developing their confidence and skills to change the world while at Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp.  YEA Camp will offer four week-long overnight sessions in three states: California, Oregon, and New York.  YEA Camp will be presented July 12-19, 2015 (Quaker Center in Santa Cruz, CA), July 25-August 1, 2015 (Camp Adams in Mollala, OR) and August 9-16, 2015 (Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in High Falls, NY).  For the first time ever, YEA Camp will offer YEA Camp For Animal Advocates, a special session for campers passionate about this issue, also taking place August 9-16, 2015 (Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in High Falls, NY).

“We are honored to collaborate with Calum Worthy, whose dedication to making our world a better place inspires young people to find their voice to make a difference,” said YEA Camp founder Nora Kramer.  “Calum is so committed to protecting the environment and advocating for a better world.  We are delighted to work with him as we support our campers to get active on social causes they care about.”

Limited space is still available for this summer’s sessions.  For more information please visit and on social media: @yeacamp

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Camper Interview: “I probably would have just been in the crowd with everyone else complaining.”

10629364_764220346953349_7312786443164990861_o (3)At YEA Camp, we urge campers to get active on social justice causes that they are passionate about, whether it be the environment, human rights, animals rights, or another important cause.

Recently one of our campers, Kakari Boateng, 16, of Sacramento, who cares about many different causes, launched an online petition on about an issue at his school.  At the end of the school year, Kakari’s school announced that it would be starting a new dress code in the fall. He had many concerns about this and so decided to do something about it. He’s already generated over 700 signatures on the petition — most of which are from people in the community who agree and are personally affected — and caught the attention of the administration, whom has since met with him.

Some people may not recognize the social justice implications of this issue, so we wanted to find out from Kakari himself what motivated him to get involved on this.

Note that Kakari attended YEA Camp last year on a scholarship funded by the Sacramento Vegetarian Society, and that he is fundraising to return to YEA Camp this summer (we are so glad!). You can support him here.

YEA: Why do you think the issue of your school implementing a dress code is important?

KB: I feel the issue of the school implementing a new dress code is important because the School Board did things without the consent of the students, and honestly things probably would have turned out better if they considered us or our parents in the staff meetings that occurred about it.

The school is requiring the students to buy clothes from the student store, and sometimes their clothes are costly. Even though the school doesn’t make money from it (they sell the clothes for the same price they pay), people like to have other options for pants. Some people also wear hand-me-downs from their big brothers or sisters who have graduated, so to say that “you can’t wear those pants ” would put a dent in their pockets.

On top of that students that comply with the current dress code already feel safe and comfortable with what they wear, so when the school announced even more changes on top of that, it could possibly exploit personal insecurities about themselves.

In the end, I feel as if it’s less about the dress code but the issue I had was with the morality of what they did.

YEA: You mention in the petition that the students are concerned about other issues you feel are more needed than a dress code. What are some of those important issues?

KB: Besides dress code, students are concerned about other issues such as not having a consistent principal, or a consistent roster of teachers. Many of the staff are leaving and whenever students try to come together and settle things in a professional organized matter, they are disregarded.

YEA: How have students raised these issues to the school administration, and what has their reaction been?

KB: Usually when students try to bring issues to the board, their thoughts are taken into consideration, but are not acted upon even though there is clearly an ongoing issue. The process is actually quite tiresome.

YEA: Are students at your school active in voicing their opinions? Why or why not, do you think?

KB: Students are active in voicing their opinions, but usually those opinions are not voiced in a positive or professional manner. I think it sparks from some type of popular thing about how it’s more fun to complain about an issue that they have instead of trying to fix it.

YEA: The petition has been so successful in such a short time! You got over 700 signatures in just the first week, and there are hundreds of supportive comments that people wrote, which really shows how many people agree with you on this. How have you gotten so many people to sign the petition?

KB: Smiles and lots of enthusiasm! I shared it online at first, then my friends shared it around, then showed it to their parents, and it kept getting shared. I’ve been talking to people about it, and people just ask me for the link or I tell them about it. All it takes is positivity.

YEA: What else have you done to oppose the dress code, and what’s next with this effort?

This week I spoke at a meeting the principal held for families to discuss this and other issues, and I met the superintendent whom I’m going to be talking with again about this. We had a little conversation and we got along really well. We both shared our points of view and how we felt about things going on during school. I’ll be going to another meeting about this in 2 weeks. When I created the petition, little did I know I would have this influence.

YEA: Has YEA Camp helped you in your activist efforts on this petition or in other ways? If so, how?

KB: Oh if I didn’t go to YEA Camp, I most definitely would have never thought of the petition or try to take action to change things in the system. I probably would have just been in the crowd with everyone else complaining. But at the camp, I was taught that the one lone nut dancing about in an open field, not doing what everybody else is doing, really draws attention, and if used right, that can be for the better.

We are so proud that Kakari is speaking up on this issue that affects him and other students in a way their school is not considering. Please sign!

We are so grateful that Kakari came to YEA Camp last year thanks to a scholarship from the Sacramento Vegetarian Society, and so we know SVS will be proud for him too! SVS is sponsoring more campers this year, so if you know anyone who would be interested and a great fit, learn more here — the deadline is soon!

Kakari is raising funds for his return to YEA Camp this summer to take what he got last year to the next level. Please support him here!

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6 Teens Who Will Bust Stereotypes and Inspire You to Change the World

Quick. Word association. When you think of teenagers, what do you think of? If the words “inspiring,” “motivated,” “dedicated,” “compassionate,” and “changemaker” don’t immediately spring to mind, read on, because those are the exact words we use to describe the teens who attend YEA Camp, including some of the ones we’re highlighting below. (And if you do know a teenager like these, get them to YEA Camp this summer!)

11139442_10152949116671843_1257294549136478588_nSixteen-year-old Claire Tamburello from Michigan has been advocating for animals since she went vegetarian at age 11. She has organized protests against the circus, rallied at the State Capitol to oppose the hunting of wolves, regularly volunteers with a local animal shelter, and recently organized a cleanup of a local park.

Last week Claire traveled to Texas to be part of the “Empty the Tanks” campaign to protest  Sea World, she’s fundraised for Farm Sanctuary‘s “Walk for Farm Animals”, and she’s seen here as part of  Mercy For Animals#noaggag campaign protesting the “ag gag” laws silencing whistleblowers for exposing cruelty on factory farms. “I’m against ag gag laws because they prohibit the documentation of what really happens on factory farms,” Claire explained. “If these laws are passed, nobody will know what happens behind the closed doors of the animal agriculture industry.”

1902080_356802881153528_3177190054884859916_nAna Little-Sana, from San Diego, has done more to make a difference in her 15 years than most people do in their whole lives. Ana was recently recognized as a Rising Star by the San Diego Leadership Alliance and has worked on a wide variety of social justice issues. From speaking at a press event for Climate Action Campaign about the impact of climate change on young people, to lobbying against police brutality at the State Capitol with the NAACP,  rallying for women’s access to Planned Parenthood, advocating outside of Wal-Mart to push for a minimum wage increase for workers, leafleting for the ACLU, attending fur protests, organizing demonstrations against Sea World, being vegan, and so much more, the impact this young changemaker is having across so many important issues is truly stunning.

Ana was also an extremely dedicated intern on Congressman Scott Peters’ successful re-election campaign, and her efforts impressed Vice President Joe Biden so much that he took a selfie with her.

joyceFifteen-year-old Joyce Frink from New Jersey has done a huge variety of things to make a difference in issues at her school, her community, and even globally. Joyce was chosen by her teachers to be a peer mediator and in that role organized a school-wide assembly and presented in several classes to address bullying and create a safer school environment. She also initiated “Mix It Up” Day at her school, where students sit with different people in the cafeteria than they usually do, and organized a successful food and clothing drive.

Outside of school, Joyce spent Thanksgiving out with her mom, distributing food to the homeless in her town. This fall she also attended her first protest at the People’s Climate March in New York City and has been active in her community. “I enjoy speaking up for those in need because I know what it feels like to not have anyone speak up for you. And I never want anyone to feel that way,” Joyce told us. “That may sound cliché, but that’s truly how I feel. When people thank me for making them feel better, that’s truly a good feeling.”

10629364_764220346953349_7312786443164990861_o (3)Kakari Boateng is a social justice advocate in Sacramento who uses art, music, and other forms of creativity to spread his message of fairness and sustainability. He has passed out leaflets about vegetarian eating, raps about issues he cares about, and most recently created a petition on to try to change the School Board’s decision to implement a new dress code at his school. The petition has garnered over 700 signatures in less than a week.

In the petition, Kakari points out that a new dress code “will mean buying new clothes that some families may not be able to afford.” He also points out that the school board did not consult the students or accept any student input in this decision and tells us that the petition is about “more than the dress code. The school board doesn’t take us seriously when we try to advocate for change” and this is one effort to do that. You can sign here.

7359_10153103663224698_2080961949964019024_nThirteen-year-old Megan Frisella of Massachusetts told us the story of a trip she took into Boston her birthday. “I saw an old man walking around, begging for money, so I gave it to him. This happened four or five more times, and I realized this tragic problem. I was nearly crying from the sadness of seeing so many people just out there, living in the streets with no one caring about them.” So this school year she started a school club, Helping Hands for the Homeless.

As a fundraiser, she and the other club members created and sold calendars, raising over $2000 net. Rather than give the money directly to a shelter, the club created 80 care packages that “will let homeless people know they are cared for and to hope for a brighter future.” Megan was thrilled that the club’s success attracted the attention of a neighboring school, which is starting a similar club.

robertoRoberto Warren, 18 from North Carolina, looks for every opportunity to speak up for the social justice causes he believes in. Whether he’s posting political articles on social media, using school projects to research and educate classmates on issues like voting rights and racism, making politically motivated art, or attending protests, his voice is so needed in the conservative area where he lives.

Roberto has been dedicated to the inspiring Moral Mondays movement happening in the state to rally against the Conservative policies that have led to cuts in funding for education and the poor, non-implementation of the Affordable Care Act, efforts to disenfranchise voters, and more. He has been to protests by the HKonJ, Historic Thousands on J St. Coalition, and supports their agenda  “because they are fighting for the right things, such as voting rights for all, equal marriage rights, criminal justice, and more. They are standing up against the North Carolina legislature and governor to promote an agenda that would benefit North Carolina in many ways from helping to pay for college, fixing our tax code, and more. It is really fun to go to these protests because you can feel the love flowing through the people there.”

Do these teens’ stories sound a little different than the stereotype of the apathetic teenager? There are plenty of young people out there who want to make a difference on the issues above and so many others, and plenty more teens who get inspired to make a difference when they see that people their age are taking action. There are also lots of teens who might get involved if only they had an experience that boosted their self esteem, showed them ways others are making a difference, and welcomed them into a community of like-minded, supportive changemakers.

PrintYEA Camp is a summer camp for social change designed for 12-17 year-olds who care about social justice, human rights, animals, or the environment. With sessions in California, Oregon, and New York, motivated teens come to YEA Camp from all over the country to get skills training, like starting a school club and planning a campaign. They come to YEA Camp to develop their confidence to speak up about what they care about and communicate more effectively.  They come to YEA Camp to learn more about the issues facing our world and to meet like-minded changemakers who are working to make a difference. At camp they choose an issue they want to focus on and create an action plan to make a difference when they go home. So many go on to do inspiring things that they credit to YEA Camp.

“Before YEA Camp, I wanted to be involved with activism and help out, but I truly didn’t know where to start or what exactly to do,” Joyce Frink told us. “Going to YEA Camp taught me many things: how to leaflet, how to table, start a club, campaign, and even more. If it wasn’t for these skills, I never would’ve attempted the things that I’ve done recently…. I honestly wouldn’t have done any of these things without YEA Camp.”

10421153_10153066909384698_2203082768185614677_n (1)“YEA Camp gave me a community that I’ve never had the privilege of being a part of, and that was a group of teenage activists,” Ana Little-Sana said. “That ability to spend so much time with so many like-minded people definitely gave me the confidence to go out and advocate for change in my own world.”

You can learn more about YEA Camp and what campers say about it here.

There are so many more young people like this making a difference on an issue of importance to them.  Inspired? What issue do you care about? We’ve got some Resources to help you get started or take your change-making to the next level.

Know a young activist or changemaker-to-be? Or does that sound like YOU? YEA Camp is just around the corner, and we have some limited spots still available.

Our California camp is July 12-19. Our Oregon camp is July 25-August 1. Our New York camp is August 9-16. Get all the details and register at

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YEA Camper Reviews and Interviews the Author of New Book “Persimmon Takes On Humanity”

persimmonThere’s a fabulous new book that impressed our director and one of our campers enough that we wanted to share a review of it here. The book is called Persimmon Takes On Humanity, by Christopher Locke, whom we are thrilled to have interviewed here.

The story follows Persimmon, a clever and compassionate raccoon, who teams up with her loyal forest friends to rescue any creature they see suffering at the hands of humans. What the team doesn’t know is just how rampant this violence really is, and soon their exciting rescue missions turn shockingly dangerous and deadly. The enthralling adventure tracks the courageous critters as they risk their own lives in various precarious situations—on a factory farm, on a fur farm, and in the circus—and challenges readers to examine their own relationship with animals and question what being humane really means.

11272090_834741033245757_1931569983_nWhen we found out that one of our most accomplished campers, Claire Tamburello, who is going to be a counselor in training (CIT) at our Animal Advocates camp this summer, absolutely loved and was strongly impacted by Persimmon — as in “I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. Definitely changed how I approach activism!!!), we knew we wanted her to write the review and interview Chris. Take it away, Claire!

I found Persimmon Takes On Humanity to be an inspiring tale of bravery and compassion with shocking elements of truth. The lovable characters capture the reader’s interest, while their heartbreaking experiences in the world of animal exploitation rouse the reader’s compassion. This book is eye-opening to those who aren’t aware of cruelty towards animals and a battle cry for those who are. One of the first books of its kind, Persimmon Takes On Humanity offers an entirely new perspective on animal rights and activism — it’s told from the view of the animals, rather than their advocates. A definite must read for anyone with a heart!

CT: You are obviously very passionate about animal rights. How did you get involved in the movement?

chris locke CL: In 2004, I read Fast Food Nation, and the sections in the book that describe the horrors that animals endure in factory farms shook me to the core. I have always considered myself to be a proponent of progressive issues (women’s rights, workers’ rights, LGBT rights and so on), but I realized that when it came to animals’ rights my actions didn’t line up with my ethics. How could I consider myself to be an ethical person when I was contributing to other animals’ suffering?

So I immediately stopped eating meat and when I learned about the abuse animals go through in other industries—such as chickens in the egg industry and cows in the dairy industry—I decided that I had to stop being a part of any type of exploitation of animals. And because the suffering of these animals is so widespread, I felt that it wasn’t enough to just not eat them, wear them and use them for entertainment, I had to also inspire others not to participate in this abuse. Ever since then I’ve been advocating for animals however and wherever I can.

CT: What would you say was your biggest motivator to write Persimmon Takes On Humanity?

I had been an animal advocate for years—attending protests, leafleting, volunteering for various organizations—but I always felt that my greatest contribution to the cause would be through my passion as a writer. I wanted to write something that would inspire others to be more compassionate toward animals, and Persimmon Takes On Humanity is the exact mix of entertainment and education that I was seeking.

From the time people are young, most humans are taught that other animals have been put on Earth for us to use as we please (to eat them, to wear their skin and fur, for entertainment), but animals have just as much right to be free as humans. They feel pain like we do. They feel fear. They want to bond with their families. So with this novel, I felt that if I could show what the world is like from the animals’ perspective, and not only help people see how much pain they’re causing other animals but really feel that pain, that it might reawaken their compassion for animals.

Persimmon_WEB_WhiteI’ve had a lot of people tell me that they cried while reading the book, and that’s actually a good thing. That means that they were rooting for the animals in the book to be saved from the horrid places in which they’re trapped. And hopefully when that person goes to eat dinner that night they’ll choose a delicious plant-based meal instead of eating a dead animal.

CT: What was the hardest thing about writing your book?

CL: Writing the novel was pure joy. I adored creating these characters and coming up with a thrilling adventure that has surprising twists and heartbreaking moments.

The hard part was going through the publishing process. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. It took a year to get the book copyedited, get the cover designed, get the interior designed, set up my own publishing company and many, many other overwhelming tasks. I am so proud of the finished product, because the book is exactly as I had envisioned (for example, I was lucky enough to get a brilliant artist named L.A. Watson to design the cover and she did such a phenomenal job), but publishing the book was such a Herculean task that I had maybe two or three nervous breakdowns.

CT: Have you thought of writing a sequel?

CL: I’m actually writing Book Two as we speak. Persimmon Takes On Humanity is the first book of The Enlightenment Adventures, and there are two more in this YA series. It has been so much fun diving back into this world. I love these characters and feel as if they’re my friends, so it’s like I’m getting to hang out with them again. Of course, their journey is just as intense and dangerous as it was in the first book, so they’re probably wondering when I’m going to write a vacation scene for them. Just wait until they find out what I have in store for them in Book Three!

CT: Did you edit your book or did someone else do it?

CL: This book series is the most important creative endeavor of my life, so the only person I trusted as my editor was my wife [Jaya Bhumitra, Director of Corporate Outreach for  Mercy For Animals]. Not only is she a fantastic writer but she’s also an avid animal advocate, so she completely understands why I felt so compelled to write this story. Her editing notes were superb, and now that I’m writing Book Two, I can’t wait to hear her thoughts about this story. I just added a new character that I think is going to be one of her favorites of the series. For anyone who’s interested, currently her favorites are Derpoke and Rawly.

CT: Are there any other causes you’re passionate about outside of animal rights?

CL: As I mentioned above, I’m a big supporter of progressive issues, and many of them are being violated within the issue of animal rights. For example, as someone who considers himself a feminist, it’s enraging to me that mother cows, chickens, pigs and other animals are having their babies stolen from them soon after birth only to be slaughtered or exploited for their bodies. In terms of workers’ rights and the rights of undocumented workers, those who are employed in slaughterhouses are working in very dangerous conditions with little pay. The agriculture industry is also a major culprit of environmental hazards, including releasing heaping sums of greenhouse gas emissions and leaking lagoons of sewage into drinking water. And if you’ve ever seen an undercover video of places like factory farms and circuses, you know that bullying is occurring on a daily (and disturbing) basis. So if you care about social justice issues, you should also care about animal issues. They’re inseparably interconnected.

As a big fan of YEA Camp, I’m very happy that the camp gives young people the opportunity to develop their skills to tackle these important social justice issues—creating the next generation of powerful advocates (it’s also a LOT of fun from what I’ve heard). Thank you for dedicating your life to activism and for being such a great inspiration to other people your age. Likewise, I hope Persimmon Takes On Humanity inspires people to make the world a kinder place!

CT: What advice do you have for teens who want to help animals, or who want to make a difference for another cause?

CL: First of all, I want to commend any teenager out there who is dedicating his/her free time to fighting for a noble cause. It’s people like that who are going to make the world a better place for all of us.

My first piece of advice is to search online for an organization that advocates for whatever cause about which you are passionate and then, on their website, look for volunteer opportunities. Trust me, non-profits are always happy to hear from volunteers. If you’re interested in advocating for animals, Mercy For Animals is an excellent organization to check out. And, of course, the best way to help animals specifically is to not eat them, wear their skin/fur and not to exploit them for testing or for entertainment.

Another way you can help is to utilize your skills to promote the cause. If you’re a great artist, see if an organization needs posters made for a demo. If you’re a photographer, see if an organization would like you to take photos of their next event. By using a skill you’re passionate about it makes volunteering all the more fun.

One final piece of advice is that you should seek other people who also care about the cause. It’s always helpful to build a community of activists. It makes activism an enjoyable activity and you have someone to lean on for questions or for moral support if you feel discouraged (or to celebrate with when you have a victory!).

I wish you all the best in your pursuit to change the world!

Thank you so much, Chris and Claire!

You can buy Persimmon Takes On Humanity for Kindle and in paperback here.

Note from YEA Camp: This book is intended for youth and adults 14 and up, as there are some very sad scenes that truthfully depict what happens to animals.

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Sacramento Vegetarian Society Sponsors Scholarship for YEA Campers

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.31.00 PMOne of the organizations that has been most supportive of YEA Camp has been the Sacramento Vegetarian Society (SVS), which, for the second year in a row, is sponsoring a scholarship program to enable low-income Sacramento-area campers to attend YEA Camp.

See the scholarship announcement and requirements here and apply for the scholarship here. Do you know any changemaker teens who would love YEA Camp and should apply?

11024826_922905967741878_4028550904013317303_oThe relationship began two years ago when Lacey Carlson, a YEA Camper from Sacramento who was part of the SVS, decided that she wanted to tell the group about her experience at YEA Camp. SVS was so moved by what Lacey shared that they decided that they wanted to support YEA Camp and help low-income youth be able to attend.


(YEA Camp has never turned down a camper for lack of funds, but we can only afford to do that because of supporters like SVS and others who donate toward camper scholarships.)

Last year, SVS found three outstanding teens from the Sacramento area, Kornell, Kakari, and Bema, who needed financial aid and sponsored them to attend YEA Camp.


They even had a report-back event in which the campers shared about their experience with their families, friends, and SVS members. The group was so inspired by what these YEA Campers shared that SVS decided to create a formal scholarship program this year, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

If you missed their inspiring talk, take a look at this short video of an interview we did with Kakari and Bema at camp!

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SVS has put on several other events to support the YEA Camp scholarship fund, including a picnic in the park where Lacey, Kakari, Lacey’s mom Bethany, and YEA Camp director Nora Kramer spoke to the audience about YEA Camp.

This spring SVS also invited Nora to speak at one of the monthly meetings to introduce YEA Camp to new members and update the group on new developments. It was wonderful to meet in person some of the people who have been so supportive of us.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.21.14 AMTo help fund the scholarship program, SVS is putting on a bake sale on June 13 from 1-4 at the Embassy Suites and the Capitol Mall, featuring a dozen amazing bakers from the Sacramento area — and all funds will support YEA Camp!

If you live near the Sacramento area or know people who do, please support this amazing bake sale (as if you needed an excuse to buy these delicious treats!) and check out the scholarship announcement!  Apply here today!

Could we love SVS any more than we already do? No! Thank you so much for your continued support, Sacramento Vegetarian Society!


YEA Camp is a summer camp for social change for youth 12-17 who want to change the world! With weeklong locations in California, Oregon, and New York, we are prepping for our best summer yet! If you know any young people who want to make a difference in their community and would love the training and support YEA Camp provides, send them to to register today!

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Is YEA Camp Right for You? If You Want to Make a Difference, Yes!

10421153_10153066909384698_2203082768185614677_n (1)Summer is almost here and so is YEA Camp!

Now in its 7th year, Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a unique week-long overnight camp with sessions in California, Oregon, and New York for youth who want to change the world! Campers ages 12-17 choose a social issue they want to work on, like the environment, gay rights, racism, or animal cruelty. Throughout the week they build their confidence, develop concrete skills, make incredible like-minded friends, and leave with an action plan to make a difference on a cause of their choice when they go home. YEA Camp is a life-changing camp for world-changing teens!

PrintWe have such an amazing summer ahead of us! We have the most  incredible staff, such fabulous campers, a truly impactful curriculum, delicious food in gorgeous locations.

We’ve also got campers who say things like,

“This was the best experience in my life. I feel so empowered and like I have the tools to revolutionize the world. If I had to choose between getting a million dollars and coming to this camp, I would choose this camp.” -Aurora, 15, Arizona

Read more testimonials here.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 4.24.54 PMWe have some remaining camper spots for motivated teens who know they want to change the world, and our director Nora Kramer made this short video to describe YEA Camp a bit more so you can see if it’s right for you or someone you know. The short answer is that if you/they care about making our world a better place, then YES it is!

If YEA Camp sounds like the place to be for you, a family member or friend, go to for dates, details, and to register. There are limited spots available at each session.

Looking forward to seeing you this summer!

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