This session of YEA Camp is already going so great! We started off Day 2 of camp with Activism 101, where campers looked at the important role activism plays in bringing about a better world. We looked at the issue of diffusion of responsibility, and the ability we have to make a difference just by committing to do so. We also considered Alice Walker’s inspiring quote “Activism is my rent for living on the planet” to think about what she meant by that.
Campers reflected on some of their activist heros, such as famous leaders as Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks, and not-so-famous activists who inspire us, such as campers’ parents and teachers who are making a difference in their community. We looked at activism as a way of turning our complaints about the world into requests and actions to do something about the problems we see. Many of the campers shared experiences and developed requests to create change in their own communities.
We also challenged the notion that to be a leader you need to be the person in front of the room, and the importance of being positive and working with other people to bring about change. Check out this awesome video we watched!
Later, after exploring our incredible surroundings in the Redwoods with a gorgeous hike to a nearby waterfall, and some fun time at the jungle gym (which is not just for kids!), campers watched videos about the civil rights and gay rights movements to understand the history and role activism has played in some of the advances that we take for granted because they happened before we were born. We took a closer look at young activists who have received Brower Youth Awards for their environmental activism and considered some of what these inspiring leaders did to be effective, which we could emulate. Campers felt empowered by the BYA recipients’ actions and accomplishments and were excited to see other young people being recognized for making a difference.
We also examined the role of inequity and privilege through an activity we call Chair Power, where campers demonstrated these dynamics and related them to issues of importance to them. By examining the distribution of power, wealth, and resources, and learning about some of the mechanisms that maintain the status quo, such as lobbying and the class separation in many communities, they developed a greater understanding of some of the challenges we face, as well as some of the things they can do.
Intermingled with a busy day of activities were lots of fun games (“Big Booty” is a favorite) and outdoor time admiring the chickens and deer who consider this property home. We enjoyed delicious French toast and fruit salad for breakfast, Tofurky sandwiches for lunch (thank you for your continued support, Tofurky/Turtle Island!), and had an amazing vegan burrito bar for dinner, thanks to our master chefs, Kyle, Mike, and Phoenix.
“Show Off and Tell” — one of the highlights and early turning points of every YEA Camp — provided an incredible finale to a great first full day. During that activity, everyone has the opportunity to brag about some of our activism. While often, in life, people don’t share about their accomplishments because they don’t want to “show off,” we feel it is important for people to have their accomplishments celebrated and to be inspired by one another’s actions and commitment. It was absolutely amazing to hear the stories shared by campers about standing up for justice and making a difference.
Just a few snippets of campers’ sharing included:
“I wrote to Michelle Obama about getting more vegetarian foods at my school, and she wrote me back…”
“Everything I’m wearing is either a hand-me-down, I bought from a thrift shop, or I made, so I made my underwear….”
“After my presentation, my teacher talked to my principal and he asked me if next year I would be willing to teach a class about discrimination.”
“We also want to inspire other cities to have more vegan options.”
“I’ve also been working on writing a book.”
“Our project is to promote literacy in Bangladesh, and we raised over $14,000.”
“I’m an intern for my local city council member, and I get to influence a lot of important people.”
“I’m in the newspaper here, not on the front page but in the Bay Area part.”
“I made this batch of cookies and my friends were like ‘dang, those are really good’ and so I got the idea to sell cookies to help fight human trafficking.”
“We’re fundraising to build a school in Equador.”
We were all so incredibly inspired that campers ended the night with a spontaneous whole group hug!
As we closed the night to get ready for bed, one camper said “It’s amazing how much we have already done with hardly any training or support. Just think what we’ll be able to accomplish at the end of this week!” YEA! There is still so much in store for them!
Check back to track more of our week ahead!