Our Approach

Curious about YEA Camp’s approach to supporting people in becoming more active and effective changemakers? So many people and organizations have influenced and inspired us.

Check out the values, philosophies, and modern-day heroes and influences that guide all of our programs.

Values and Philosophy

YEA Camp is not about any one topic or social justice issue. Each camper chooses what we call their Issue of Importance (IOI) to focus their activism on, with a recognition that issues are interconnected. Most people would consider our values to be “progressive,” and we won’t argue, but we think they are even more basic than that:

  • All people should have their basic rights and autonomy respected.
  • Our environment must be protected.
  • Other species have a right to share this planet and to live free from harm by humans.
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The foundation of YEA Camp's unique curriculum springs from these philosophies.

  • If you’re able to recognize that there is a problem, you are able to do something about it.
  • Given the magnitude of the problems before us, an urgent need for change, and our limited resources, we want to make the biggest difference and be as effective as we can.
  • All of us benefit when we develop greater knowledge, skills, confidence, and community to become more empowered, effective advocates.
  • Creating a safe, respectful environment and a climate of allyship enables people to step up into new ways of seeing themselves and behaving.
  • Areas of oppression to humans, animals, and the environment are interconnected, and they are all serious problems, no less or more important than one another. To become a more strategic and sustainable advocate, each person should learn about these interconnected issues and then pursue the IOI they are most passionate about, while being an ally to others.
  • It is a privilege, responsibility, and a calling to advocate for social justice.
  • As effective changemakers, we must feel and then learn how to positively express and cope with our emotions about the state of the world.
  • Being willing to go out of our comfort zone in our activism enables us to expand our “changemaker toolkit” and become stronger leaders.
  • We must take care of ourselves so we can help others.
  • Activist approaches that include violence, aggression, or shaming or guilting others to change, go against our long-term values and are not effective.
  • We are lifelong learners and always seek to improve as individual advocates and as a program and organization.

Influences and Heroes

This list is obviously not exhaustive, and we won't say we universally endorse everything these people and organizations do, but these are some of the groups that influence our approach as advocates and contributed to how we have developed our curriculum and programs.

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Black Lives Matter

What came to fame as a most fundamental hashtag advocating for black people wrongly killed by police, Black Lives Matter is a robust women-led movement drawing attention and taking massive action to oppose the horrific racism still rampant in this country, and leading a diverse effort for systemic change.

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Effective Altruism

The Effective Altruism movement to assess our activism and volunteer goals based on evidence in order to be as effective as possible inspires us to teach our campers to make the most of their limited time and resources.

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Begun by a few savvy legislative aides as a direct response to train citizens to reclaim our democracy after Donald Trump’s election, Indivisible groups around the country are using savvy tactics to amplify our voices and hold legislators accountable to the people they represent.

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Shaun King

One of the most important journalists and advocates for justice in the country, Shaun King is a prolific writer and organizer and one of the most important people to follow on social media to learn about the level of injustice in our society and what to do about it.

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A progressive community-driven advocacy organization that harnesses the dedication of millions of members to bring about political change.

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Robert Reich

This economist, former Secretary of Labor, college professor, author, and activist uses many different platforms to spread his message of the causes of economic inequality, and is an expert in explaining complex issues in ways that are easy to understand and provide a call to action.

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Challenge Day

Leading life-changing assemblies and programs in school to bring about healing, reconciliation, and empowerment to young people struggling with being bullied, injustice, or standard teenage self doubt, YEA Camp has adopted Challenge Day’s approach to interacting with youth in a way that combines vulnerabillity, empathy, and silliness.

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Embody Love Movement

Leading a movement of self love, body positivity, and uplifting girls and women beyond superficial media messages, Embody Love Movement innovates in its programs, approach, and love.

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Institute for Humane Education

True innovators in the field of education, founder Zoe Weil and IHE launched a vision for raising a generation of “solutionaries,” created ground-breaking curriculum, and trains teachers to integrate empathy for humans, animals, and the environment into their teaching.

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Landmark Education

This transformational organization offers life-changing personal growth and leadership programs that have been extremely influential in the development of YEA Camp’s staff and curriculum. YEA Camp pulls from Landmark’s belief that we can overcome self-imposed obstacles that have held us back and take responsibility for our impact in the world.

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Mercy For Animals + PETA2

Mercy For Animals and PETA2 innovatively advocate for changes in how humans treat animals, and they do so in a savvy way that capitalizes on social media and tailors their methods to their audience. 

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Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders sparked such enthusiasm for his candidacy and promise for true systemic change thanks to his authenticity, integrity and long record of advocating for social justice. He showed that it is possible to competitively fund a political campaign without compromising one's values for corporate contributions. Note that YEA Camp does not endorse any candidate, and this is not an endorsement.

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CTZNWELL recognizes the intersectionality of social injustices as a threat to our society’s wellbeing, and innovatively uplifts the opportunity to leverage individuals’ privilege to bring about social justice and wellbeing for all.

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Julia Butterfly Hill

Julia’s courageous choice to protect ancient Redwood trees by sitting and then living in one for more than 2 years grabbed headlines, but we are inspired just as much by her humility, recognition of intersectionality, and heartfelt belief that each one of us makes a difference.

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Van Jones

A serial social entrepreneur, author, speaker, CNN commentator, and bridgebuilder, Van Jones has launched an astounding number of innovative projects at the intersection of addressing racism, climate change, and poverty, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Books Not Bars, Green For All, Rebuild the Dream and Dream Corps, Color of Change, #cut50, Yes We Code, Love Army, and more. His clear-minded, non-judgmental, practical approach to building bridges, as well as his encouragement to “call people up” instead of “call people out,” are an inspiration.

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Lone Nut Shirtless Dancing Guy

This incredible 3-minute video showing the movement documented by “the lone nut dancing in a field” inspires every session of YEA Campers to question their view of leadership, to feel empowered despite feeling alone in speaking up for what they believe in, and to see a model for how to inspire others to take action.

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Nonviolent Communication

Founded by Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication pioneered a new approach to interpersonal communication, YEA Camp teaches this important topic at every session to empower campers with tools to resolve issues in ways that meet and respect everyone’s feelings and needs.

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Standing Rock Sioux

Many thousands of activists risked their lives to oppose the Dacota Access Pipeline, and they did so modeling nonviolence, collaboration, and organizing at such a high level. We were proud that some of our YEA Camp staff went to Standing Rock in solidarity and then reported back for us all to learn from.

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Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen is a true role model for advocating for what she deeply believes in while using humor and staying positive to inspire change.

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bell hooks

A true activist hero and influencer, acclaimed author and esteemed college professor, bell hooks has been critical in shaping modern views on the intersection of race, class, and gender, as well as analyzing the flaws of our education system that teach obedience instead of innovation.

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Colin Kaepernick

This man risked his lucrative career as a football player to raise awareness and spark a national conversation about racism, police brutality, and mass incarceration. Colin Kaepernick has donated over $1 million to social justice organizations, launched his own youth empowerment camp to teach youth of color about their rights, and regularly shows his deep knowledge of and commitment to social justice struggles.

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Michael Moore

Academy Awared-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has made a career shining a light on injustice and exposing the deeply flawed systems and people that have compromised our economy, health, safety, democracy, and wellbeing.

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The Pollination Project

A visionary philanthropic social justice organization providing grant funding to individuals working to bring about social change.The Pollination Project has funded many YEA Campers and staff to enable them to launch inspiring projects in their community.

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Marianne Williamson

As an incredibly prolific best-selling author, inspirational speaker, and Congressional candidate, Marianne is a fierce advocate for empowerment and bringing about the change we wish to see on an individual and societal level. Her most famous quote often appears on our walls at YEA Camp: “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Note that YEA Camp does not endorse any candidate, and this is not an endorsement.


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