Welcome to Day 11(!) of our 12 Days of YEA Camp Heroes campaign – our way of showing off how amazing our campers are and reflecting on how, according to them, YEA Camp has helped them make a difference.
Today’s YEA Camp Hero is 15-year-old Bernie from Oregon, who has been with us the past two summers. Bernie is passionate about a lot of things – music, especially! Here he is performing the whole camp at the YEA Show! – but also human rights, bullying, gay rights, the environment, animals, and more. When he first came to YEA Camp, he says he “was kind of lost in the activist regard, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or focus on,” which is how a lot of campers are — and how a lot of people are — when you recognize how many challenges there are in our world. Ultimately, though, YEA Camp is about stepping up to make a difference, learning skills, seeing and emulating examples of things that others are doing that are working, and channeling your passion into action.
When we asked Bernie how YEA Camp made a difference for him he said it “helped me center on what I really care about. This year when I went I wanted to focus on human trafficking but I realized that I’m really passionate about the environment, and YEA Camp helped me do so much. I started a compost program at my school (here he is, on the right, with members of his school club at the waste audit they did that showed the school how much food waste could be diverted from the trash by composting!), and I’m screening the ‘Story of Stuff’ and ‘Cowspiracy’ this semester, and none of that would have been possible without YEA Camp. It’s changed my life so much, and I’m really grateful.”
He also told us last month that, if not for YEA Camp, “I would have been eating turkey for
Thanksgiving, and burgers and hot dogs every single day, I swear. If not for YEA, I wouldn’t be willingly learning about cruelty in the world. If not for YEA, I wouldn’t be as kind and accepting as I hope I am.”
We are so grateful to know Bernie and so many others like him who know that they want to make a difference and just need a little support to channel their passions into action.
As we wrap up 2014, we say thank you to all of you who have supported YEA Camp along its path to reach more young people like Bernie. We are continuing our year-end fundraising drive until tomorrow, when our matching gift expires, and we would so appreciate your support to help us reach even more campers to make an even bigger difference in 2015.
If you were inspired by Bernie, we hope you will check out some of the previous posts about YEA Camp Heroes that you may have missed. There was Day 1 about Megan in Massachusetts raising money for the homeless, Day 2 showcasing Joyce in New Jersey speaking out about bullying, Day 3 highlighting Maddie in Colorado advocating for animals, Day 4 about Lia from Washington state working to address the stigma of mental illness and reducing teen suicide, Day 5 about Roberto from North Carolina speaking more confidently about progressive causes, Day 6 about Ana from California advocating for women, workers, animals, and more, Day 7 about Jia Hui’s animal advocacy, Day 8 about Shelby’s advocacy for gay and transgender rights, and Day 9 about Leah from Connecticut helping animals at her local shelter, and Day 10 about Sage from California who is trying to educate his peers on current events. Wow, that’s a lot of heros! And we’ll be honoring 1 more tomorrow as we wrap up this series. We hope you are inspired as we are by these stories that our supporters have helped make possible.
If YEA Camp sounds like the perfect place for you or a change-making 12-17 year old you know, send them to YEACamp.org and hopefully we’ll see you or them this summer!
Happy new year!