A Twelve-Year Old Explains How YEA Camp Changed His Life

By Noam Cohen-Weinberg

I came to YEA Camp because I wanted to find a community of people who were as ambitious and open-minded as me and to learn how to become a more effective activist. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by such a forward-thinking and open-minded group of young people aspiring to make a difference in the world just like I am.

I already thought that I was making an impact, which I was by being vegan, signing tons of online petitions, and writing to companies, but YEA Camp reminded me that there is always more that I can do. Everyday at YEA Camp we got to participate in motivational workshops that gave me great ideas. I cannot thank the incredible staff enough for molding me into a more effective activist through their influential workshops.

I feel that I now have the knowledge, confidence, inspiration, and group of friends that I need to make a difference. First, I am focusing on how I can improve my school. I have started taking action by working on getting the cruel practice of dissecting animals banned in my school and replacing it with an online virtual-alternative. To accomplish this, I have researched this issue and reached out to the head of the science department at my school urging him to ban the dissection of animals in my school. He has pledged to talk to the other science teachers about it. Thanks to YEA Camp, I have the courage and knowledge to have a face to face meeting with him and not. If he says no, I will then talk to my principal.

I also plan to advocate for Meatless Mondays at my school and hope to make them year round. Giving up meat one day a week is not only good for your health, but is also very good for the planet and for animals. Additionally, I aim to advocate for humane education in my school sometime during the school year. For those who don’t know, humane education is the use of education to nurture compassion and respect for all living beings. Humane education can play a key role in making our society more compassionate and caring, to take responsibility for ourselves, each other, our fellow animals, and the earth. I may not be able to get a class that is mainly about compassion and respect for living beings, but I will try to convince my school to host a public speaker who will talk about this.

I also really want to be more open about my activism with my peers at school. Last school year I was careful not to stand out too much when it comes to my activism. I didn’t want people to have a poor perception of me due to my activism. Before YEA Camp, I did not have the confidence and support that I needed to see such issues and take action on them in these ways. I will forever be grateful to the amazing staff and campers at YEA Camp for giving me the confidence and support that I needed. Thanks to YEA Camp, I see that being open about my activism can enable me to have a bigger impact.

I really hope that even more people can come to YEA Camp next year, because we desperately need more young people to have the knowledge, confidence, inspiration, and group of friends that they need to make a difference in order to change the world.

Noam Cohen-Weinberg went vegan about 2 years ago due to his passion for animal rights and wants to do as much as he can to help animals. He is 12 years old and was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Noam Attended the 2018 session of YEA Camp in Massachusetts. It was his first time attending YEA Camp and he plans on coming back next summer.

If you want to take your activism to the next level, find out more about YEA Camp here — now with a camp for adults too!