Blog post written by Nicole Green, Director of Animalearn, the education division of the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and YEA Camp Counselor.
Youth Empowered Action Camp, which was held for the first time on the east coast in Lanoka Harbor, NJ, was a life changing experience for me. As an educational facilitator at YEA NJ, I had the opportunity to enlighten budding young activists about my own personal experience as an activist and as the Director of Animalearn, the education division of the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS).
In the span of one week, I bonded with a group of people who will always remain dear to my heart. I was inspired by everyone I encountered, from staff to the young individuals who were passionate about a variety of issues from animal rights to autism awareness.
My personal journey is depicted in the picture gallery below.
I had the opportunity to meet some truly amazing people at YEA camp. Here Eileen Botti (our phenomenal vegan chef) and Chris Kudrich (our health supervisor) proudly showcase the Animalearn “Dissection Doesn’t Cut It” stickers that I brought for camp.
Eileen wowed everyone at camp with her amazing vegan culinary skills. A running joke that we had in camp was a humorous reference in The Meatrix, a short video which educates, entertains, and motivates people to advocate for animals in factory farms. To find out the line this cake references in The Meatrix go to: http://www.themeatrix.com
The YEA Camp curriculum gave campers the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of activities that allowed them to work collaboratively while using their critical thinking skills and creativity. Here groups worked together on an Arts Activism project called a Group Mandala.
As part of the YEA camp experience, campers are encouraged to focus on an “Issue of Importance” or IOI and create action plans in order to tackle that issue once they leave camp. In order to help them with challenges that they may face, several camp staff are serving as mentors. I am honored to be working with four passionate and dedicated young people who want to make a difference on many topics including factory farming and veganism, endangered species, and autism awareness.
YEA Camp was a powerful experience for the campers and the staff and one that will create a lasting impact. YEA Camp will continue to expand its offerings on the east coast and to expand to other regions to offer this opportunity to more caring youth. My experience at YEA camp was rewarding in many ways, but it especially helped to reassure myself that even though we are in a world that is in crisis on many fronts, there are young people today, like the ones I met at YEA camp, who are the “lone nuts” (a theme for YEA Camp taken from this video) and change-makers of tomorrow.