What will you (or the 10-17 year-old changemaker in your life) be doing over winter break this year? If the agenda was mostly to sit around bored at home, well, change of plans!
One of the things that made our summer sessions so amazing was our incredible staff — all of whom were former YEA Campers and are now grown up with years of activism experience making a difference on causes like climate change, racism, LGBTQ equality, animal rights, mental health, and more.
We’re thrilled that most of our all-star team from this summer — Aine, Julia, Liam, and Maya — are able to join us again this summer, and we have added a few fresh faces, too — Ananya and Elyanna, amazing activists who were both speakers at the virtual camp this summer! These inspiring humans have over a decade of combined YEA Camp experience and have all done some incredible activism.
Throughout the week at YEA Camp, you’ll be learning about different types of activism, getting ideas for things you’ll want to do for the cause that’s most important to you (what we call your Issue of Importance, or IOI), and working on an activist project or two yourself! These are the staff members who will be your role models, advisors, cheer leaders, and mentors to help you put your passion into action — and that’s pretty special.
So without further ado, here is the YEA Camp Dream Team for Winter 2020.
Current Issues Of Importance (IOIs): Factory farming, political accountability, mass incarceration
Just some accomplishments: Started and directed or co-directed 30 sessions of YEA Camp! Successfully coordinated grassroots volunteer efforts to qualify ballot initiatives in 2 states to outlaw some of the cruelest, unsustainable, and unsanitary practices on factory farms; passed out tens of thousands of leaflets; gathered several thousand signatures, including most recently for a measure that helped to stop a new prison from being built in Los Angeles. Wrote The Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World.
Reason for being on staff: “Activism can be really challenging, especially when you’re just getting started and not as confident. I love being able to help people on their path to make the biggest difference they can, and I love to surround myself with amazing changemakers who inspire me.”
Elyanna Calle, Counselor (YEA Camper: 2018)
IOIs: Animal rights and climate change
Just some accomplishments: Elyanna is a student at the University of Texas studying journalism. She attended camp back in 2018 with her IOI being animal rights. Since then she’s participated in many animal rights groups and organized protests and events. After that, she got involved in climate justice and organized two climate strikes in Olympia,WA — all while still in high school.
Reason for being on staff: “Since the day I left YEA camp I wanted to come back as a staff member. I learned such invaluable lessons and I want to give back to the program!”
IOI: Racial Justice
Just some accomplishments: In high school, successfully led a student organization called Students for Change that removed confederate names and symbols from her public high school. Currently an outspoken activist, a local organizer in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Vice President of UNC Black Student Movement, which is the largest cultural organization on UNCs campus.
Reason for being on staff: “To amplify the voices of young activists and use the knowledge I have gained to help others.”
IOIs: Mental Health and LGBTQ+ Rights, Climate Change, Education
Just some accomplishments: Former YEA Camper turned staff member that is currently studying neuroscience, psychology, and education at Pitzer College. From a young age, Liam has been involved with humane education and animal rights causes, which then sparked an interest in climate justice. Investigating these intersections led them to work with the Alliance for Climate Education working on youth education and empowerment and advocating for green energy legislation in New York State. More recently, Liam’s focus has been on alternative and accessible education through working as a youth ambassador with HundrED and conducting research on trauma-informed teaching and arts education. Created a resource guide for teaching with sensitivity to queer folx and those affected by mental illness.
Reason for being on staff: “I know from both being a young person and working with young people how truly powerful we are. There is a yearning for knowledge and a passion and drive that is unstoppable. When this is paired with education and support, I know that change can be made in this world. As someone that has benefited so much from this program I want the change to give that same experience to others.”
IOI(s): Indigenous Rights and LGBTQ+ Rights
Just some accomplishments: Maya Diaz-Villalta (they/them) is a third year at Saint Mary’s College of California pursuing their degree in Anthropology and Dance. They have been an Indigenous Aztec dancer for fifteen years and are involved in various Indigenous communities. Maya is the founder of an organization called Naturalmente Indigena which serves Native youth to connect them to their culture, mother earth, and encourage higher education. Maya serves and advocates for Indigenous, immigrant, and queer communities.
Reason for being on staff: “To listen to young people’s ideas and help manifest their goals.”
IOIs: LGBTQ+ Rights and Student Press Rights
Just some accomplishments: Headed the student advocacy chapter of the Garden State Scholastic Press Association for three years, changed the recycling system in her school district, and has written extensively on racial issues, immigration, mental health, etc. for her school newspaper, reaching a wide audience. Also served on the board of a horse sanctuary. Is now currently the Assistant News Editor for the student newspaper of Wake Forest, where she is studying political science and ancient civilizations.
Reason for being on staff: “YEA Camp was a transformative experience for me, allowing me to become more confident in myself, learn more about the issues of the world and how to make them a better place, and in building a community of changemakers that have become my lifelong friends. I want to give other kids the opportunity to experience that.”
IOIs: Climate justice, social movements, education
Just some accomplishments: Longtime youth climate justice activist. Started Youth United Making An Impact, was a lead activist with Greenpeace, a Climate Justice League Fellow with Sierra Club, former CEO of Greening Forward, youth advisory council member and plenary speaker for National Youth Leadership Council. Currently a student at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine! I have an interdisciplinary major in human ecology
Reason for being on staff: I love YEA Camp so much because it truly changed my life and shaped me into the activist I am today, and it’s such a special experience and community! Being able to give that experience to other people and help them discover their activist passions has been incredible!