So, what do we do at YEA Camp?
YEA Camp is a unique combination of fun, inspiration, and education. YEA Camp’s curriculum focuses on developing 4 areas that we feel are critical to being effective change-makers: knowledge, skills, confidence, and community. You can see a sampling of our activities below.
Our activities build knowledge about problems in our world and/or skills to bring about solutions, build camper confidence in themselves and the ability to bring about change, and strengthens our community support system.
Planetary Problem Puzzle
In this interactive activity, campers recognize surprising connections between different and seemingly unrelated issues, from racism to deforestation to war and factory farming. This helps to deepen our understanding of the causes and solutions of problems, make more strategic and informed choices about our activism, find ways to bring about progress on multiple issues at once, and provide solidarity to causes that may be more complex and closer to our hearts than we realized.
Show Off and Tell
Sometimes we are told not to brag, but at YEA Camp we encourage our campers to be proud of and share their accomplishments with one another! In Show Off and Tell, each camper shares about a cause they care about and something they’ve done to make a difference on that issue, whether it be a seemingly small action or a big achievement, and they draw inspiration and ideas from each other. We want our campers to be proud of the cool stuff they’ve done and to seize the unique opportunity to learn from others who have done things that they are inspired by and may want to learn more about.
A Million Ways to Make a Difference
There is an unlimited number of things we could do to make a difference on any issue, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. In this activity we explore how to make a difference with our personal actions, talking to others, and influencing change in a bigger way at schools and in other communities. We ask campers to think about what they love to do, what they are good at, what resources they have, and what the issues they care about most need, which can provide a strong direction of which actions to take when there seem to be unlimited (and potentially an overwhelming number of) possibilities.
Communicating effectively about an issue you care about can sometimes feel challenging, especially if the issue is complex or controversial or if you don’t have a lot of time to explain. In IOI Blitz, each camper practices communicating about an issue of importance (IOI) to a partner for one minute, then each person finds another partner to share with. We keep going and switching partners until each person has talked with many other campers. By the end, not only is each person much more confident speaking about their issue, but each person also has the opportunity to learn about the issues important to other campers. Round 2 entails hearing responses beginning with “Yeah, but…” to understand the arguments against and begin developing effective responses to commonly held beliefs that oppose the camper’s position.
Developing an Effective School Club
Starting or being part of a club is a great way for students to raise awareness about an issue, connect with like-minded students and faculty, and create even bigger change at school or in the community. We encourage all of our students to start or join a club. But having a club for the sake of having a club doesn’t in and of itself help the environment or address a social problem. This workshop will help with choosing projects, developing a structure for success, getting others involved, sharing leadership, and more.
Supermodel Role Models
We will learn about some of the people who have had a powerful impact in making our world a more compassionate place. We will learn about current youth activists, as well as historical change-makers that you may or may not have read about in textbooks. We’ll learn not only about the actions they took, but who they were as human beings — what motivated them, what hard times did they overcome, and how were they so effective?
Theater of the Oppressed
A popular education technique using theater as a tool for transformation, theater of the oppressed invites critical thinking and questioning, inviting participants to (1) see the situation in which they live, (2) analyze the root causes of that situation and (3) to ACT to change the situation. The technique we teach, Forum Theater, presents a scene or a play that shows a situation of oppression that the protagonist does not know how to address, and fails. “Spect-actors” are invited to replace this protagonist, and act out all possible strategies. The other actors improvise the reactions of their characters facing each new intervention, so as to allow a sincere analysis of the real possibilities of using those suggestions in real life.
Activism doesn’t have to mean bullhorns and protests! There are so many creative ways to raise awareness. You can get the word out in a way that is fun, and inspires people to think or get involved. Whether it’s making murals, spoken-word poetry, Youtube videos, skits, parodies, raps, dance, photography, or some other format, we’ll explore ways to use your creativity to help your cause.
Sometimes it’s hard to get our message across in challenging situations — whether the message is to ask our principal to get recycling bins at school, to ask people to join our club, or to ask our sister to knock before entering. Here, you’ll learn how to be a more effective communicator and listener for the rest of your life, as well as to communicate about an issue you care about even with people who disagree with you.
No matter what cause you care about, you can probably bet that having more money will help move it in the direction you want to take it. Whether it’s to print flyers to advertise what you’re doing, to address a problem directly (say by buying recycle bins or even solar panels), to donate directly to a nonprofit organization doing work you believe in, or even just to buy snacks for your club meetings, we will give you some key suggestions on how to raise money that you can put to work for what you believe in.
Campers often report that this workshop causes a breakthrough in their view of themselves, and was the most impactful workshop at camp. This life-changing workshop challenges their long-held beliefs about themselves, while having them see that they are capable of much more than they previously thought.
It may not sound exciting, but this powerful skill workshop often makes the difference between campers taking action on an issue, or being stuck in the overwhelm or “too busy” mindset that stops many of us from doing what we want in life.
FWAP! Fun with a Purpose
Campers put all of the knowledge, skills, and confidence they have learned at camp together as they work with a team to achieve different activism objectives. This fun game has campers engage in an activism simulation where they try to convince their “mayor” to dedicate more funds to the homeless shelter, their “principal” to put solar panels on their school, their school cafeteria to introduce more healthful and vegetarian options, and more!
Take a Guess!
A fun guessing game turns into an opportunity to learn. We’ll practice different forms of decision-making and have a discussion of ways to make decisions in a group and some challenges that can come up in a school club or community organization.
Don’t Stop Till You Get a YES!
As change makers, we will be faced with a lot of “NOs” in life. Being resilient and not giving up in these situations is key! Let’s just say you’ll get some great practice in this game. Cue Michael Jackson!
Musical chairs never made for this much interesting conversation about the state of the world!
Really, Really Free Market
Shopping was never like this! Campers and staff are all asked to bring items from home that they no longer need but that are in good condition and others may want, such as clothes that don’t fit anymore or a book they have already read. This is a way for us to show the value of reusing and sharing resources, questioning our consumption, and contributing to one another. We use our consensus skills to decide how to conduct our market, and then everyone gets great free stuff!
Mingle, Mingle, Mingle
After creating YEA’s community bio board, we have a little mixer to practice mingling. Talking to people is important! — especially getting good at talking to people about certain things that might help when you’re looking to make a difference with them. We also practice saying hello to people in the hallway! (People are a lot less likely to come to your club meeting if you’re one of those people who are too cool or shy to say hello in the halls.)
Free Time Activities
Free time is what it sounds like — you have the time free to do your own thing. Free time is time to take a nap or hang out with new friends or do nothing — or to do fun activities you or others organize, like basketball, art, hacky sack, games, or going for a hike.
Evening activities are whole-camp activities that always put a fun, inspiring, or community-building cap on the day!
You’ve never been to a poetry recital like this before! Campers experience a breakthrough in overcoming their fears and their ability to go beyond what they thought was possible for themselves.
Ice Cream Social
Ice cream never tasted this good! Some of our campers have never tried vegan ice cream, and they are always impressed! Ice cream sundaes with all kinds of goodies are an awesome summer treat. And there’s a twist….
By the time camp is over, you’ll want to do something goofy to show to all your friends, trust us. Or you can share your love of dancing, singing, poetry, and much more! This is also an opportunity for campers to share anything they want with the community–a speech, an inspiring video, or information about an issue they care about.
Anyone who cares deeply about the state of our world must deal with the emotions that come along with coming to grips with injustice. We provide a safe space for us to connect with the feelings we keep bottled up inside about the problems in our world so that we can develop the resilience as we continue to work for change.
This is a hike like no other. We’ll experience the natural beauty of the nature around us and develop a special appreciation for the camp community we are in.