We at YEA Camp think summer is the perfect time for young changemakers to delve deep into learning how to make a big difference on a cause they care about. But with summer still a ways away (though registration for YEA Camp is open!) and way too many issues in the world in need of attention, we are always looking for ways to support more youth in getting active in their communities.
So we were thrilled when an incredible school invited us to teach an intensive 3-day course on effective activism to their 9th and 10th grade students. Um, YES!
Nueva School, an award-winning and nationally recognized independent school in the Bay Area, “uses a dynamic educational model to enable gifted students to learn how to make choices that will benefit the world.” Each year, Nueva runs an inspiring program called Intersession, where experts are invited to teach mini intensive courses on topics not fully explored in the standard curriculum.
When school administrators asked parents for presenter recommendations, the mom of one of our campers who goes to Nueva recommended us. We are experts on youth activism!
Turning our 8-day overnight summer camp curriculum into a 6-hour mini course wasn’t easy, but we packed a lot in and of course included some camp favorite games and silliness.
Each student chose what we call their Issue of Importance (IOI) and got to think it through and then share with the class what they see as the causes of the problem, some solutions, and some concrete actions people can take on the individual, community, and institutional levels.
While thinking more deeply about an issue they are passionate about, they educated and learned from one another about issues relating to animal rights, poverty, racism, the environment, education, mass incarceration, health care, women’s rights, LGBTQ protections, and more.
Students came up with a one-minute elevator pitch with talking points and delivered it over and over and over again to get better at articulating the call to action for a cause they care about.
By the end, they had developed tools to strategically analyze the effectiveness of different actions they could take (weighing estimated difficulty against impact), looked at their own privileges and how that puts people in a unique position to make an impact, and considered what life today would be like if not for the activists who came before us.
Imagine our country today if not for the abolitionist movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the gay rights movement, the environmental movement, the animal rights movement, and more.
Our world is so much better off for the countless nameless people who have worked to make our world a better place, and each of us has an opportunity to continue that legacy.
By the end, students created an action plan with a to-do list based on self analysis of the 4 areas of YEA Camp’s curriculum: knowledge, skills, confidence, and community. While the class was just a few days long, we are hopeful that it has an impact for many years down the road.
YEA Camp is so grateful for the opportunity to meet and work with a new batch of young changemakers. We hope some of them join us this summer at YEA Camp to go even deeper in their activism training and to meet other young people who are passionate about making our world a better place. And we’re thrilled to have already been invited back to this remarkable school for next year. Thank you, Nueva!
Sound like a class you would’ve wanted to take? If you or someone you know are interested in coming to YEA Camp this summer or in inviting us into your school, please register or reach out to us. We’re looking forward to reaching more teens and making a bigger impact in 2016 than ever before.