In our 10 years of YEA Camp, we have been fortunate enough to have campers attend from a dozen(!) different countries — but none came from as far away as Charlotte Chambers, and she did it twice! Charlotte is a committed animal advocate and vegan, and she traveled all the way from Australia(!) at age 12 and then 13 to attend YEA Camp in Massachusetts the past two summers! We are thrilled to see her applying the activist skills learned at YEA Camp back home “Down Under.”
We are so excited that Charlotte is sharing her story with us, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
YEA Camp: Hi Charlotte! Tell us about the activism you’ve been doing.
Charlotte Chambers: Some activism I have done includes getting hundreds of petition signatures to ban live animal export (a terrible practice where live animals are sent off on long journeys on ships from Australia) and volunteering at Edgar’s Mission, a farm animal sanctuary near my town. I did a video for the sanctuary’s Facebook page, attended vegan conferences in Melbourne and the Australian animal activists forum, and participated in marches to protest a new coal mine set to be constructed in Queensland. I have also formed a group for kids and teens who care about the environment and animal rights.
YEA: How did you get involved with activism and what you’re currently working on?
CC: I got involved with activism when I was 11, when I went vegan. My whole point of view shifted and I wanted other people to make the same realization about animals that I had — that they are not ours to do with what we please. I started writing assignments on veganism and having conversations with people about it. I wanted to make a bigger difference but I didn’t know how. When I found out about YEA Camp, I was so excited that I would be able to learn how to make a difference.
YEA Camp gave me so many new skills and it helped me gain enough confidence to make significant change. YEA Camp educated me on issues that I wouldn’t necessarily know much about. I learned more about the environment and I decided that I was interested in that area of activism too. I’m currently working on growing my environmental and animal rights group, called Brighter Futures for Animals and the Environment. Our goal is to make positive social change in our area and to make people more aware of the way we impact the environment and the lives of farm animals. We have planned projects such as banning plastic bags in our town, removing cage eggs from our supermarkets, planting more native trees, and educating our school peers about the importance of environmental protection and animal rights. We are currently in the process of meeting with our local representative in Parliament to talk about banning live animal export in Australia.
YEA: That’s incredible! What challenges have you faced as an activist and how have you dealt with them?
A challenge that I have faced as an activist is the loss of inspiration and the feeling of hopelessness. I often feel that I am just a kid and I can’t make a difference. Sometimes, I ask myself what the point of all this is because it seems as though it’s all a waste of time.
Whenever I get this feeling now, I like to reach out to my activist friends for inspiration. I look back on past activism that I have done and I read about small environmental and animal rights victories that have happened recently. Speaking to my friends from camp helps me get fresh ideas and strategies for my activism and reading about changes helps me feel like I can make a difference.
YEA: That’s great. We all struggle at times, but we can’t give up! What advice do you have for new activists just getting involved?
CC: Some advice that I have for new activists is to go to YEA Camp if you can! It is really life-changing and will definitely give you a head start on your activism. I would also say to try and put yourself out of your comfort zone as much as you can. Go to events, meet new people who share the same passion, get ideas, and stay inspired. Once you know more people who are also into activism, there is now more support for you if you ever feel like you can’t make a difference. Also, keep a journal — sometimes the world just really sucks, and it’s really great to empty all your thoughts on paper.
YEA: How did YEA Camp help you in your activism, if it did?
CC: YEA Camp helped my activism so much. It helped me gain so much confidence and gave me strategies for how to create the most amount of change. The camp connected me with so many awesome and inspiring people who I’m still friends with and talk to all the time. The workshops that we did at camp help me in my activism as well as my every day life, and I am so grateful for everyone at YEA Camp for giving me this unforgettable experience.
YEA: Aww! That’s amazing to hear! Are there any other organizations you’ve worked with or that have been valuable resources in your activism?
CC: I’ve gotten involved with many organizations since I went to YEA Camp, including Animal Liberation Youth, where I am a part of their organizers’ group in Victoria, and I marched with them at an animal rights march in Melbourne a few weeks ago. I have been getting more involved with Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary, where I was in one of their videos for their Facebook page. I am also part of their new campaign, Kindness to the Max — I have been volunteering with them as much as I can. Some other organizations that I have been involved with include Animals Australia and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
YEA: Amazing! What are some of your short-term and long-term activism goals or plans?
My goals for activism in the future are to expand my group so that we can make large-scale change in our area and state, and I also would like to work more closely with other organizations. For long-term dreams, I would love to see an end to factory farming in my lifetime and possibly an end to animal agriculture, as well as all of Australia’s energy to be renewable.
Charlotte Chambers is 14 years old and in year 9 at her high school. She is from Bright, Australia and attended the 2016 and 2017 Massachusetts YEA Camp sessions. Her issues of importance are primarily animal rights and environmental justice.
If you are as passionate about making a difference as Charlotte is, you should come to YEA Camp — either to our youth session or to our session for adults! If you want to learn how to get active right away, download our new ebook, The Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World.