The Youth Empowered Action overnight last weekend was a huge success! We had 21 teens attend the event, which included YEA workshops as well as some swimming and late night roller skating!
Youth who came to the event were interested in making a difference on a lot of different issues. Many campers were interested in getting involved in, or strengthening their schools’ Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and got resources and ideas from each other, as well as the GSA Network. Fundraising ideas were suggested and decided upon, such as bakesales, movie screenings, and t-shirt sales. Youth also discussed projects and awareness campaigns their GSAs could take on next!
Some of the campers were interested in environmental issues, and several are planning to attend an April training hosted by the Citizens Climate Lobby which is forming a chapter in Portland with the help of Laura Carver, who is YEA’s Assistant Director by day and a climate change and environmental activist…also by day! Several first time participants came up with a plan to have a school fundraiser to buy silverware to replace the disposable sporks currently being used in their middle school cafeteria. Another high school student plans to start a campaign to stop selling bottled water in the school’s student store and to join forces with his school environmental club to launch the campaign to raise awareness about the problems with bottled water. The issue of bottled water came up at a previous YEA Academy, and a short video called “The Story of Bottled Water” explains it well.
Several campers are taking this activist tip and ordering leaflets from organizations such as Mercy for Animals and PETA to spread the word about the benefits of veganism and how animals are mistreated on factory farms. It’s a very easy way to make a big difference! Other campers are involved in building houses with Habitat For Humanity, and volunteering with local organizations like the Blanchett house and the Oregon Food Bank that are working to address poverty and homelessness. Participants discussed ways to step up their fundraising efforts for these programs. YEA! It is inspiring to see so many young people participating in so many different projects.
The feedback from the overnight was an overwhelming “More overnights!” and we are looking forward to offering this program again. The next YEA Academy in Portland, OR, is from 11am-4pm on April 14th, and of course we hold week-long overnights each week-long session of YEA Camp! Camp is fast approaching in July and August in Oregon, northern California, and New Jersey. Visit www.yeacamp.org for dates and details and to register.