For a PDF, click here to access our YEA Impact Report.
Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is an overnight teen summer camp with sessions near Portland, OR, Santa Cruz, CA and Boston, MA designed to train and support teens who want to change the world.
Our focus is developing four areas we think are critical for all activists’ success: knowledge, skills, confidence, and community. We carefully design our curriculum to expose campers to different issues, teach them skills that they can use to take action, encourage and challenge them to overcome personal barriers that hold them back, and show them that they are not alone.
We tell prospective campers before they apply that while YEA Camp will be lots of fun, that’s not the point. Our mission is to make more effective activists, and we measure our success both quantitatively and qualitatively by the actions and accomplishments of our campers after camp.
Of course, we want to know if our program is achieving these goals and producing the results we are committed to, so we set out to collect and report the results of several surveys we have conducted of parents and campers.
Outcomes, according to our campers and their parents
We surveyed the parents of our campers a month after camp ended to demonstrate the power of our program.
How impactful has YEA Camp been for your child on a scale of 1-5?
More specifically, we asked parents: One month later, what differences have you seen in your child since attending YEA Camp?
Parents see the impact YEA Camp has on their kids.
“After attending camp, Tanner was very excited with renewed sense of belonging to a group of kids who had social justice commitments. Tanner has stayed in touch with his mentor and has participated in distributing handouts asking people to go meatless one day a week in front of Ventura Trader Joe’s side walk.”
– Michael, father of Tanner, age 12, California
“My 13 year old daughter Shayla has benefited significantly from her experience at YEA Camp. Her self confidence has boosted and she has matured in the way she interacts with adults and authority figures. On the drive home from camp I asked “So, how’d it go?” She responded without hesitation “That was the best thing that ever happened to me!” Since camp she’s been much more comfortable being exactly who she is. YEA Camp is an excellent investment.”
-Michael, father of Shayla, age 13, Massachusetts
“Hannah came back from YEA Camp with a whole new outlook on things. Her after-camp action issue was to start a club at her school that dealt with animal rights. She got right on that as soon as school started and was able to start her Peace for Animals club. Hannah and her club are now working with the school to get veggie burgers on the menu…. She also uses the skills she learned at camp to help her friends get through rough times, stand up for others, and offers kids who are considered ‘different’ a shoulder to lean on and advice to help them cope, that she learned at camp.
YEA Camp is a giant hug for teens that teaches them the skills to be more confident, stand up for their beliefs, get involved and be heard! All the years of Girl Scout Camp my daughter attended never made an impact on her life that just one week at YEA Camp did! AMAZING CAMP!!!!!!! She can’t wait to go back to YEA Camp this summer!”
– Kristie, mother of Hannah, age 15, Arizona
See more parent testimonials here.
Camper Feedback on YEA Camp
YEA Camp’s purpose is to support campers in building the knowledge, skills, confidence, and community to make a difference in the world on what is important to them. How well do you feel we accomplished this for you?
97% of campers responded with a “5″ (definitely) and 3% with a “4″ (Mostly).
Campers recognize the impact YEA Camp has had on them months after attending.
“If not for YEA Camp, I wouldn’t have taken the action to stand up and try to make a difference for others in my school rather than just going with what others did, in fear of being judged for breaking away. I feel that YEA Camp has taught me that it really is okay to be different, and it’s good to be myself. Thank you to everyone. YEA was truly a life-changing experience.”
-Angelina, 13, Massachusetts
“If not for YEA Camp, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start a club and talk about issues that are close to my heart.”
-Mai, 14, Oregon
“After camp, I became a member and VP of my school’s sole environmental club, Grizzly Green Team. This past week I worked at Club Rush for the club and we got over 40 people to sign up. Most of the members are not really into the environmentalism thing, so I’m looking forward to teaching and educating members on the things I learned at YEA Camp. I also signed up for our school’s GSA Club.”
-Ethan, 17, California
“If not for YEA Camp, I wouldn’t have been kind enough to myself to prepare for the actions I need to take this year.”
-Kami, 14, Oregon
“Before YEA Camp I had really lost my passion for my issue and was distracted with so many other things. After YEA Camp, I found my love and passion again.”
-Katlyn, 17, Oregon
“If not for YEA Camp, I wouldn’t have even thought about being a passionate vegan or learning more about helping the planet and our society. I am so grateful to yea camp for giving me more confidence and the will to try.”
-Devon, 15, California
“I started an online business, Bright and Courageous Arts, to sell duct tape items and donate all of the money to charity. Rylee and I had a pretty successful first month of our Etsy shop. We sold a few things and raised over $100 for Mercy For Animals. If it weren’t for YEA Camp, our online shop wouldn’t have been possible and I wouldn’t have met Rylee [her business partner].”
-Phoebe, 13, California
“If it weren’t for YEA Camp, I wouldn’t have the motivation, skills, or confidence I have now to do my activism and change the world. I wouldn’t have the knowledge I have now, and I wouldn’t have done the things I have done to make this Earth better, and I wouldn’t have the goals I have now.”
-Olivia, 12, Oregon
“My biggest accomplishment recently has been working on starting up my Interact Club. I have been planning big things, including soup kitchen visits, sponsoring families for Thanksgiving/Christmas, a human trafficking awareness and fundraising week, and a clean water project. If not for YEA Camp, I wouldn’t have been as confident as I am now (about my IOI, my beliefs, and just in general) and been so proactive with setting up my Interact Club.”
-Gina, 17, Massachusetts
“YEA Camp has officially changed my activism life and my social life. I have more confidence, I am way more outgoing and it has given me a better/different view on the well-being of other people in society and on my issue of importance. I wish YEA Camp could last forever, but I realized by leaving I was being helped to find a new perspective and a new way of expressing who I was. YEA Camp changed my life (in a good way) and I hope they will continue to change lives and help the world grow.”
-Tanner, 12, California
“No one has ever been there for me like the people at YEA Camp have. Before camp, I never wanted to do anything in front of anyone. But at camp I knew I could be myself, and people would be kind and be my friend anyway. Now whenever someone criticizes me for doing activist work, I always have a smart thing to say back. And I’m not afraid anymore.”
-Alanna, 12, Massachusetts
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Many campers report having “life-changing” experiences at YEA Camp, such as realizing for the first time that they are not alone, that they actually have the ability to make an impact, and that negative beliefs they had about themselves are not true or no longer need to hold them back. In many ways these epiphanies result in unquantifiable impacts in the long term.
Here are just a few of the impressive short-term accomplishments of our campers in the first few months after YEA Camp. Most tell us that they would not be doing these things if not for attending.
After YEA Camp, our campers…
-Tegan, 16, from Oregon, organized a schoolwide assembly, bringing in an expert guest speaker and giving a speech herself in front of her whole school to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking.
-Tanner, 12, from southern California, brought leaflets with him about animal cruelty when he went trick-or-treating with friends and gave one to each home he visited.
-Griffin and Bernie, both 15, who met at the Oregon camp, couldn’t find a leaflet about the environmental topic that they care most about, so they made one together to start handing out.
-Deborah, 14 from Oregon, was such a dedicated Planned Parenthood volunteer that she was given the opportunity to be one of the keynote speakers at the organization’s annual Portland fundraising event, where she spoke passionately about women’s rights in front of over 900 people.
-Phoebe and Riley, both 13, who met at the Oregon camp, started an online Etsy store called Bright and Courageous Arts, selling their duct tape wallets and hand-made jewelry. Each month, they donate the proceeds from that month to a different nonprofit organization!
-Vivian, 15, from California, has applied her love for baking with her commitment to human rights, selling her popular homemade cookies every day at school and raising over $2000 for an organization working to end human trafficking worldwide.
- Change Policies
-Oliver, 15, from New Jersey, was told by school administrators that he and other transgendered students couldn’t use the bathroom of their identified gender. Just weeks after YEA Camp, Oliver contacted his state assemblyman and influenced him to introduce Bill A2224, which would allow students throughout the state to use school facilities that correspond to their gender identity.
-Owen, 16 from rural Illinois, worked through much bureaucracy to change the minimum age to volunteer at her community’s animal shelter from 18 to 16, enabling her and others to walk, foster, and help homeless animals get adopted.
-Brian, 16, from California, persuaded his school cafeteria to implement Meatless Mondays.
Impact Their Communities
-Ariel, 16, from Ontario, hosted the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean Up in her area, where her group picked up litter over 1/2 a kilometer of shoreline. She and her sister alone picked up 48 lbs of garbage and 1010 cigarette butts!
-Emily, 13, from northern California, persuaded her middle school administration and PTA to implement YEA Camp’s curriulum about bullying. Once a month, every homeroom class does an activity we do at camp to generate a dialogue about the expierience of being bullied and being a bully.
-Thirteen-year-old Elisha from Washington worked with her school administration to implement composting at her school and is currently working to make this district-wide.
Start School Clubs
-Before camp, Lacey, 17, from Sacramento, had been involved in a variety of school clubs, but noticed that many students weren’t engaged. After camp, she decided to start a YEA club at her school to educate and inspire students to make a difference on the issues they care about.
-Shelby, 17, from LA, is part of a strong Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at her school and knew that other schools would benefit from a powerful GSA presence on their campuses too. After YEA Camp, Shelby reached out to other GSAs around the Los Angeles area, and has been acting as a mentor to schools with newly forming GSAs.
To learn more about YEA Camp, including to register, donate, or to apply to work with us this summer, please visit www.yeacamp.org.