The staff at Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is not your typical cast of camp counselors. Our team is composed of folks with teaching credentials, Master’s degrees, and expertise in youth development, as well as specialized and creative fields such as arts activism, grassroots outreach, changing laws, fundraising, yoga, anti-racism, animal protection, gay rights, food justice, and more, plus many years of experience both as peaceful activists for various causes and as educators.
Nora Kramer, Founder & Executive Director
Nora Kramer has worked as an educator and activist since 2001, teaching high school English, environmental education, at after-school programs, and — of course — working at camps, as well as working on numerous political and grassroots campaigns for various social justice issues that she cares about deeply.
Nora has combined her interest in activism and social change with her passion for working with youth through teaching at after-school programs, running a humane-education organization, mentoring school environmental clubs, working with students to get healthier options in the school lunch program, and teaching 9th and 10th grade English, in addition to over a decade of grassroots and political activism. Nora received her teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and has worked at several camps over the years, as a camp director and senior staff. She has training from the Institute For Humane Education, completed the intensive Basic Camp Director Course through the American Camp Association, has coached leadership programs with Landmark Education, and was certified in nonviolent conflict resolution with youth through the Help Increase the Peace program.
Recognizing the passion and power teens have to bring about a more just world, and the opportunity to support them through an intensive and unique summer program, Nora developed the curriculum for YEA Camp and founded the camp in 2009.
Laura Carver, M.Ed, Assistant Director
Laura has been an activist since age 14 and has been an educator for over 15 years. In college, she majored in Environmental Education at Oregon State University while teaching at various youth programs including outdoor school, nature centers, YMCA camps, and the Boys and Girls club.
After college, she pursued her passion for making a difference by working for several nonprofits including the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in Connecticut, a non-profit organization that organizes students around the country on issues of the environment and consumer advocacy; Farm Sanctuary, the premier national organization working on behalf of animals raised for food; and the Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the national leader for the no-kill animal shelter movement.
In 2006 she obtained her Masters in Education from Portland State University and a teaching license in middle and high school science and math. Laura was a teacher with Portland Public Schools for four years before joining YEA Camp full time in 2010.
As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience and love of working with young people to inspire the next generation to make a difference in the world. Laura is passionate about addressing the climate crisis and is currently serving as the volunteer Regional Coordinator for the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) for the Pacific Northwest, supporting CCL group leaders in OR, WA, ID, MT, AK and HI. She participates in the Salem CCL chapter. She has worked at 13(!) sessions of YEA Camp and will be at all 2015 sessions. She currently lives in Salem, OR.
Andina Aste-Nieto grew up in two big, wonderful families in San Diego. Several of Andina‘s relations are social justice warriors and she grew up around conversations about oppression and justice for Chicano, American Indian, African-American, homeless, and LGBT communities.
In Andina‘s twenties, she found ways to travel the world and stay connected to her passions for social justice and and working with youth. She visited and volunteered in orphanages and poor indigenous communities in Mexico and Guatemala. She attended the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. One of her most impactful experiences was conducting anthropological research about how resorts are affecting the environment and the Maya community in Tulum, Mexico.
Between some of those adventures, Andina worked as a substitute teacher and teacher’s aide in both public and private schools in the U.S. Her desire to empower the students that are falling through the cracks of the public school system led her to the social justice-oriented multicultural counseling program that she is in currently. Her internship is at the Southern California American Indian Resource Center where she serves children, teens, and adults. Andina is supplementing her Western education with teachings about traditional indigenous healing ceremonies and practices. One of her dreams is to create a program where she can facilitate the empowerment of youth of color through connection to their cultural identity and roots.
After noticing his school’s littering problem as a 12-year-old 5th grader, Charles Orgbon III began leading school-based community beautification projects. He quickly realized that the environment movement was not adequately supporting young environmental changemakers; therefore, he created Greening Forward. Today, six years later, the youth-driven, youth-imagined organization has grown into the largest movement of its kind. In all, Greening Forward has distributed over $40,000 in funding to youth environmental projects that have also planted over 300 trees, built over 80 compost bins, installed over 200 rain barrels, monitored 11 streams, recycled 120 tons of waste, planned two International Young Environmentalists Youth Summits, and advocated for a number of other environmental issues. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has dedicated a piece of the Power of Children permanent exhibit to Charles’s efforts in order to inspire more young people to make a positive difference in the world.
Claire Tamburello is a student, passionate social justice/animal rights activist, and aspiring photographer and marine biologist. She became vegetarian at age 11 and vegan at age 12 with support from her family. At age 16, Claire organized and attended her town’s first ever circus protest. She’s participated in numerous animal rights campaigns, including End Circus Cruelty and Keep Michigan’s Wolves Protected. She’s attended many protests, leafleted in groups and solo, aided in farm sanctuary fundraisers, and been an active member of VegTeens, an organization bringing together vegetarian and vegan teens in Michigan. She regularly volunteers at animal shelters and various nonprofits.
Currently, Claire is helping to plan a teens section of the Grand Rapids VegFest, organizing a local park cleanup, and planning a trick-or-treating Halloween event for young vegans. Claire was a camper last year and, as a standout activist this year, will be a fantastic role model for this year’s campers through her role as a counselor in training at our YEA Camp for Animal Advocates. Check out this profile we did on Claire for our YEA Camp Heroes campaign.
Diana Rose Rachel Frances
Diana’s singing career began at the age of seven with the New York City Opera Children’s Chorus. For ten years she performed solo and ensemble roles with the company, while also collaborating on CD recordings such as The Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve and Other Stories, and with Paul Simon on his demo, The Capeman. She continued her studies at a performing arts high school and college, and performed for six years with the young artist program, Seagle Music Colony, and toured with their Educational Outreach Program to bring children’s opera to the community.
Ida currently works as a tutor at a school in East Oakland and loves working with her sixth graders, especially when they draw her pictures of dragons or show her a dance they choreographed to a TLC song. Her passion for youth and social justice was sparked through volunteering as a youth leader at the Mosaic Project, an incredible organization that brings together disparate groups of kids to practice conflict resolution skills and embrace diversity. She is interested in creating a more peaceful world through healing interpersonal trauma with young people, particularly children of immigrant families (Ida herself moved to America from Russia and Israel when she was 7). Next year, she will begin her master’s program in Community Mental Health at the California Institute for Integral Studies. She also loves performing improv comedy and exploring nature.
Kameke Brown is currently completing a term of service as a team leader with AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). Kameke is living in Washington at the moment, but is (mostly) from Texas. Her involvement in issues of social justice, service, and activism paralleled with the exploration and evolution of her identity as a black queer female. She’s passionate about intersectionality, developing community, and “changing the story”. She’s been vegan for several years now and is, at the moment, very much interested in animal rights, food justice, environmentalism, and sustainable agriculture–but as always is eager to learn more about social justice issues in general and get involved in any way that she can. She’ll be at the New York session and it will be her first time attending YEA Camp. I’m very excited and looking forward to it!
Lacey Carlson is a student, activist, and aspiring environmental educator who is passionate about compassion. At age 14 she became vegan with support from her family, and has continuously worked since then to open her own eyes, and those of others, about animal rights, environmental sustainability, social justice, and the intersections of all three. In high school, she worked as a docent for the Woodcreek Nature Center, guiding nature walks and teaching children about the environment, and volunteered with Sacramento Vegan Community Challenge for many events such as Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge and 1000 Vegan Cupcakes for Charity. She has participated in many animal advocacy campaigns and protests, including the UC Davis Primate Research Protest and the Humane Lobby Day, in her hometown of Sacramento, CA. She currently attends University of California, Santa Cruz as an Environmental Studies major, and is an intern with Life Lab!, a garden-based environmental education program that takes local elementary schools on field trips to teach them about connections between the food we eat and the world we live on.
Madeleine is an animal rights activist and educator from the East Coast. She is currently a graduate student in the Smith College Master of Arts in Teaching Program and holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Smith College. Throughout high school and college, Madeleine has worked in special education, one-to-one tutoring, and Philosophy for Children programs, empowering kids to engage in critical thinking and ethical debate from an early age. She has facilitated Philosophy for Children programs with the Balmoral School in Auckland, New Zealand, Eurekamp in Alberta, Canada, the Pioneer Valley homeschooling group in Northampton, MA, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in Springfield, MA. She is excited to learn more about bridging these experiences to more active work in the humane education movement.
Madeleine has been involved in animal rights and environmental activism since before middle school, and has worked with Farm Sanctuary, the League of Humane Voters, and The Humane League. In 2012, Madeleine co-founded Animal Advocates of Smith College, and has also been active with the American Sign Language and Deaf Culture Club, Transcending Gender (a trans* students and allies campus group), and the House Sustainability Representatives. Vegetarian for most of her life and vegan since fourteen, Madeleine sees making vegan living more accessible to a wider demographic as a necessary step in moving away from the speciesism, racism, ableism, sexism and cissexism that pervades our society. Madeleine is working to bring more intersectional awareness to her activism, and is thrilled to have the privilege to learn and grow with YEA Camp social justice community members of all ages and backgrounds.
Melissa is a 6th grade English and global history teacher in NYC, and has been for the last 14 years. In class, they discuss many social issues on a regular basis such as gender inequalities, racial and religious prejudice and tolerance, animal rights, and other important issues. Melissa has been an aspiring animal rights activist since high school when she joined PETA for the first time, and has been interested in animal rights issues and vegan living ever since. Melissa also started a running camp for kids 6 summers ago when YEA camp began. It was, and continues to be, her inspiration.
Michael is one of the amazing YEA Camp chefs, providing us with three incredible meals a day. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Mike spent most of his life in in the Bay Area (Oakland and San Francisco). He enjoys writing, being a personal trainer, and, of course, cooking. This will be Mike’s third year with YEA Camp, and he’s really looking forward to it.
Mike says, “Last year I was so blown away with the work I saw kids put into making the planet a better place that I had no choice but to get on board. This camp is like no other camp I’ve worked at. The staff really care about the work that they are doing, and the kids are just as passionate. I have the honor of being one of the cooks on this voyage, so kids– be prepared to be spoiled!”
Michael G. Starkey is a biologist, activist, and public speaker working to educate and involve the public in animal rights and wildlife conservation issues. Mr. Starkey has a diverse background in the field of wildlife conservation and he has worked as an ecological consultant for environmental consulting firms and government agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. He has worked with a wide diversity of California wildlife, including San Francisco gartersnakes, giant gartersnakes, California tiger salamanders, bats, and ringtails. Mr. Starkey has also worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, studying larval development and parental behavior of the neo-tropical frog,Leptodactylus insularum. He began working with the world’s leading amphibian conservation organization, SAVE THE FROGS!, in 2010 to inform the public about the threats facing amphibians and he served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee. In this position, he rallied together scientists, volunteers, and others in order to help broaden SAVE THE FROGS’ mission of conservation. He co-founded Advocates For Snake Preservation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to snake conservation and continues to use his knowledge of snake ecology, positive attitude to inspire, and enthusiasm to engage the public with protecting these beautiful animals. Mr. Starkey has given presentations around the world to inform the public about animal rights issues and to help nurture a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife. Mr. Starkey currently lives and works in Belize, Central America.
Monica Carr holds a BA in non-fiction writing and journalism from Hunter College of the City University of New York. There, she participated with various student clubs, organizations and campaigns including the Hunter V-day Team for four consecutive years, including her leadership role as co-director in the 2012 production of “The Vagina Monologues,” has served as the secretary of Hunter’s Women’s Rights Coalition for six continuous semesters and volunteered with the International Action Center in phone banking, advertising and organizing the annual May Day protests in NYC for workers’ and immigrant rights. Monica has worked with a non-profit called Girls Write Now, which serves to foster relationships between professional women writers and inner-city high school girls. Her passion for youth empowerment stems from her counselor position at Lead for Diversity, a weeklong program for high school students, where she facilitates large and small group workshops addressing issues of bigotry and prejudice. Some of her most recent ventures have been exploring sustainable modes of living, intentional communities and permaculture farming. Monica works as the Vegan Support Analyst for the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), a national nonprofit organization working to end the use of animals for food through public education and grassroots activism.
Nathan’s transformation from a privileged bully to an ally for humans and animals started in 2011. His curiosities led him to become a vegetarian and a Big Brother (Big Brother Big Sister) and he hasn’t looked back. Currently an undergraduate BSW student at ASU, Nathan is involved in many student driven activities. His passions are steering him into the macro side of social work where he plans to make big changes with policies and legislation through research. One other passion that Nathan loves to talk about and act out is Hip Hop Pedagogy. Also defined as conscious Hip Hop, emcees rap about history and struggles in order to find the roots to positive change.
Pierce Delahunt is the Community Outreach Director of Solutionary School, a K-12 school scheduled to open in New York in 2018, founded on the premise that education be toward social change. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University, and is currently working toward an M.Ed. at the Institute for Humane Education. He is especially interested in social-emotional learning and advocacy education. During the school year, he performs in NYC schools with Family Life Theatre, a theater troupe for social change. During the summer, he staffs with CISV, a camp for global friendship, as well as YEA Camp. He currently enjoys yoga, parkour, and contortionism.
Shelby has always wanted to make a difference but last summer as a camper at YEA Camp, the forces of the universe really confirmed that activism is her true calling. She’s so excited to be returning as a Counselor in Training! She just graduated from her high school in Los Angeles and will be going to Smith College in the fall. She has been the co-president of her GSA for two years and is a strong voice for queer representation at her school. In addition, she has invested a lot of time into coordinating inter-school GSA events and creating a local network. She has also been leading a small club called Animal Allies for three years. Her main passions are animal rights, the environment, and queer rights, but she loves learning about and showing up for all issues of peace and equality (because they’re all connected)! She’s known at school as the rainbow-sock-wearing, reusable-plate-bringing, poster-taping, hiking-boots-wearing, optimist-kid.
Click here to view the Alumni Staff page.