By YEA Camp Founder and Director Nora Kramer
As we prepare for our second year of YEA Camp for Adults, we wanted to share more about its purpose, ways it’s similar but also different from a typical leadership or activism conference or training or retreat, and how it might be the most fun you’ve ever had focusing on self-care, personal growth, and changing the world.
We are living in a time when children are being separated from their families at the border, when those in power are ignoring scientists’ warnings about climate catastrophe, and the richest 26 people in the world currently own the same wealth as the poorer half of the entire global population. These are just a few of the most devastating injustices we are facing.
It’s enough to make a big-hearted person feel totally demoralized, check out, or give up.
But, thankfully, many people who have never been activists before are getting involved and inspired to bring about change.
Seeing this has been incredible! People are attending their first marches and getting involved in politics for the first time. They’re donating money, having uncomfortable conversations to challenge outdated thinking, and on and on.
For the past 10 years, YEA Camp has been training teens to make a bigger difference on the social justice causes they care most about, and we recognize that folks 18 and up have some of the same needs as teens do to get involved at higher levels than ever before.
That’s why we created YEA Camp for Adults.
Changing the world is hard! Not only does it take knowledge about issues and skills to make an impact, it takes self-confidence to get out of our comfort zone, and community to learn from and work with.
So many people got their start as changemakers by mostly stumbling along without a plan or rationale. It’s often lonely and time-consuming to try things out without much in the way of relevant knowledge, skills, mentorship, or even open conversations with experienced activists to help navigate a path that is inherently entrepreneurial and against the status quo.
Left to our own devices, it’s too easy to just like posts on social media, go to a march every few months, and complain about all of the world’s problems without doing much of anything about them.
That’s where we try to intervene and make a real difference. We leverage the experience of our staff to help kickstart or up-level your activism.
At YEA Camp, we curate the most foundational concepts and skills that we want to make sure every changemaker has in their toolkit. Things like:
- Fundamental strategies for understanding and chipping away at racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression
- Intersectionality and how different social justice issues relate to one another
- Evaluating our habits and choices to see how our daily actions and purchases can be some of the simplest ways we can make a difference
- Going deeper and examining our limiting beliefs and fears to help us find our voice and tap into our power
- Tapping into our resilience when we feel overwhelmed and demoralized by the state of the world
- Communication skills to help us have more effective interactions with people who we disagree with, especially those in positions of power — and to know when to avoid these interactions
- Skills to inspire others to get involved, to use social media or grassroots outreach effectively, to raise money for your cause, or to launch a socially responsible business or venture
- Interactive activities tailored to different learning styles and to help you apply everything you learn
- Tapping into our creativity and using the existing skills we each have to find our niche and make a difference in a way that is most appropriate for each of us
- Developing strategies to assess the best use of our time, and to make a plan that inspires us
Why A Summer Camp for Activists?
So many reasons! Let’s focus on three.
- Summer camp brings together the elements of fun, inspiration, and relaxation. As activist-minded people, we can become focused on all the problems in the world. In comparison to so many injustices, it could feel impossible or selfish to enjoy our lives. We hope you’ll see that taking time to be out in nature, be silly, and enjoy life is a long-term investment in your activism. It can help us replenish our energy and inspiration so that we can think clearly and truly be of service to others.
Camp inherently challenges us to get out of our comfort zones.
From meeting new people, to being open to the unknown, to the most basic adjustments to new food and a bed that’s not your own. But as we tap into our courage in a safe environment, we can build a muscle that actually expands the size of our comfort zone. Things that made us nervous before become not so scary, and that is hugely helpful for any activist. With an activist mindset, we see infinite opportunities to take action beyond what we’ve done before, where we’re not sure what to expect, or where we may be opening ourselves up for criticism or perceived failure. We can all benefit by getting more comfortable getting out of our comfort zones.
Camp might be the best place in the world to reinvent yourself.
Most of us spend the majority of our time with the same people. Our coworkers, family, friends, neighbors, and even ourselves know us to be a certain way. We are a product of our past ways of being and seeing ourselves. But what if we want to re-evaluate who we are or how we want to approach life? What if we want to pursue new passions or set new goals? That can be hard to just wake up and do one day over breakfast or at work.
You get to show up as whoever you want to try out being. If you’re naturally shy, what if you try being outgoing? In a welcoming environment where nobody knows you, we won’t even know you’re just trying that out!
This is an opportunity to brainstorm a new way to get involved in your community or a more inspired career. We will have no judgments –just offer support and thoughtful input if you ask for it.
There are conferences and trainings to learn about specific problems in the world or to build specific skills. But they’re usually boring or stuffy, in a sterile hotel conference room all day packed with people you won’t get to know, and with someone droning on to explain a PowerPoint you could have read at home.
But what if you could learn the basics of what you need to know to make a bigger difference while also having one of the most fun weeks of your life, building strong bonds with like-minded supportive people, and spending time in nature rejuvenating yourself so that you feel inspired rather than drained?
That’s YEA Camp!
YEA Camp for Adults is held at the incredible Woodstock Farm Sanctuary — a home for rescued farmed animals who will be some of our hosts and friends as we enjoy our own sanctuary during our time together. We chose June 30-July 6, the week of July 4th, so it will be easier to get away.
We only have 50 beds, so this will be an intimate setting. Everyone will get to know everyone and nobody can fall through the cracks. The accommodations are modern, and we will have a personal vegan chef cooking for us! We also promise you will become friends with creatures with 2 legs, 4 legs, and even wings!
We also offer a sliding scale and financial aid to make it easier for people to be able to come.
If you’re passionate about making a bigger difference in the world, YEA Camp was created with you in mind.
Summer is fast approaching! We hope you will take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to take your change-making to new heights!