A leadership camp + activism training to help you get started or get serious about making a bigger difference on the social justice causes you care about
For progressive changemakers ages 12-17
HELLO, WORLD CHANGER!
YES, we're talking to YOU!
Are you as concerned about the state of the world as we are?
We're obsessed with addressing issues like racism and gender equality, climate change, poverty, animal rights, gun violence, and sadly a lot more.
We believe if you're old enough to realize there's a problem, you're wise and capable enough to be part of the solution.
But it can be really hard to know where to begin or how to deal with the many questions and challenges that come up along the way.
That's where YEA* Camp comes in. Our mission is to help more people make a bigger difference.
*BTW, we pronounce YEA to rhyme with "hey," like the yeas and the nays!
You do not want to miss out on this summer! YEA Camp is an overnight camp that our campers commonly tell us has changed their life.
Don't live in the area? No problem! Campers are flying in from around the country to attend. We'll even pick you up from the airport if you need a ride!
Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a summer camp for social change.
We'll train you to make a bigger difference on the causes you care about, which is serious stuff.
But we're also a camp, so (if it's OK with you) you'll also make great friends and have lots of fun too!
We help 12-17 year-olds from all over the country (and even other countries!) get started or get serious in their world-changing endeavors -- all while having one of the best experiences of their life.
If you're concerned about the problems in our world and want to learn how you can do more to help solve them, YEA Camp is meant for you!
See you this summer?
JOIN US JULY 1-9, 2023 HINSDALE, MA
YEA Camp 2023 will be held in the beautiful Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts, though we attract campers from all over the US and sometimes even other countries!
If you are from out of the area, don't let the location stop you! We can help with a ride from the airport.
YEA Camp will be held at a super nice, modern, new camp facility with all the basics (like electricity and regular indoor bathrooms and hot showers) and beyond, with beautiful hiking, swimming, kayaking, and other outdoor sports and activities we can play during free time.
We ask families to arrive on July 1 between 11am-12:30pm (everyone's invited to stay for lunch at 12, with camp activities just for campers officially beginning at 1).
On the last day of camp, we ask families to arrive at 11am on July 9 (we'll feed you again!) and invite you to stay for a graduation that will end no later than 1pm.
As a precaution, we'll send you the exact location of YEA Camp after you register, but we're located approximately:
- 1 hour from Albany
- 2-1/2 hours from Boston
- 3 hours from NYC
- 4-1/2 hours from Philadelphia
- 6-1/2 hours from Washington, DC
For your convenience: If you're considering flying in from out of the area, we will be offering door-to-door shuttle camper airport pickups with our staff from Albany International Airport, which is served by American, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest, and United.
“Words cannot describe how fun and life-changing this experience has been. Before this camp, my dream to end bullying at my school was dead and seemed unreachable. I had no idea how to stop it. Thanks to YEA Camp, I now have the confidence and skills to go out into the world and make a difference and turn my dreams into reality.”
–Paula, 17, California
Leadership Camp + Activism Training
So many of our campers have told us that YEA Camp changed their life
Since 2009, we've trained over 1,500 aspiring activists to make a bigger impact on the social justice causes they care about. Join us to:
- Learn more about the problems in the world and what you can do about them
- Build skills to actually make a difference
- Develop confidence in yourself to get started or get serious
- Connect with a community that cares just as much as you do
- Do fun stuff like play games, make art, kayak, swim, or just hang out with new friends who are as amazing as you are
- Go home inspired with lifelong memories, belief in yourself, an action plan, and more hope for the future
"I probably will never be able to fully convey the feelings of deep love and gratitude I have for YEA Camp. YEA Camp has totally shifted me mentally and emotionally in a direction I believed I’d never go.
Not only did I realize that changing the world was possible, but I learned how to change my mindset. My newly gained confidence has already taken me so far and I have YEA Camp’s incredible community and staff to thank for that.
During my time at YEA Camp I’ve learned how to turn my compassion, knowledge and thirst for change into action and I think that this is probably the most significant lesson I will ever be taught. Being at YEA Camp makes me feel like I could do anything no matter what it takes. YEA Camp is the experience of a lifetime and to experience its magic first hand is such a blessing."
Rachael, 16, New Jersey
Benefits of YEA Camp
- Strengthen your confidence and belief in yourself.
- Develop amazingly close friendships with super nice people who care as much as you do.
- Get tons of ideas and examples of ways you can make a difference.
- Gain individualized mentorship from experienced staff and like-minded peers in our small camp environment.
- Find your voice to speak up about what’s important to you.
- Deepen your understanding of the problems in our world and how to fix them.
- Learn skills you can apply right away to make a difference in your community.
- Improve your people skills while also caring less what others think of you.
- Become part of an inspiring community who will cheer you on long after camp ends.
- Have the best week of your life!*
*That’s seriously how many of our campers describe it.
"Before camp, I knew that I wanted to change things, to make the world a better place, but I had no clue where to start. YEA Camp gave me the confidence, inspiration, and community to do so much since then that I never would have done before camp."
–Ananya, 14, New Jersey
Is YEA Camp Right For You?
- YEA Camp attracts a diverse group of progressive-minded youth ages 12-17 who want to make a bigger difference in the world
- Some of our campers have been activists since they were little! Others are just getting started. But it's not a competition. It's a community. We love that we all get to learn from and inspire each other.
- You are excited (it's OK if you're a bit nervous too!) that YEA Camp will coach and challenge you to think bigger and to expand your comfort zone
- You are committed to anti-racism, gender equality, and creating a space that supports everyone to be empowered as a changemaker
Unfortunately, YEA Camp won't be a good fit for you if:
- You support Donald Trump or his policies (You're entitled to your opinion, but this isn't the right camp for you)
- You're introverted enough or have mental health challenges that would make being in big groups without much alone time, or sometimes emotional activities involving discussing serious problems in the world, really unpleasant or unsafe for you
- You're not vaccinated against COVID-19. (That's a choice for you and your family, but we require vaccination to try to keep everyone as safe as possible).
“I felt extremely welcomed and accepted at YEA Camp. The tight community bond we formed was incredible. The creation of such a tight-knit community in a week is magical. I learned everything and more that I need to be an effective advocate. All aspects of the camp contribute to the best experience of someone’s life. This is the experience of a lifetime.”
– Jaliessa, 17, Oregon
Tuition & Payment
The all-inclusive tuition for YEA Camp’s life-changing overnight leadership camp is $2,050.
Included in the cost of tuition is:
comfortable, modern cabin lodging at our beautiful venue for 9 days and 8 nights
nutritious mostly organic vegan food (3 meals a day, 2 healthy snacks, and dessert!) prepared by incredible personal chefs
highly experienced adult staff supervision and workshops at a phenomenal camper-to-staff-ratio of approximately 3:1
leadership experience that many of our campers highlight in college applications and resumes.
- fun camp activities like swimming and kayaking on the lake, hiking, and other outdoor time in nature
- health center and skilled health supervisors to oversee camper safety, and certification by the Massachusetts Department of Health
inclusion in our community to be able to stay in touch with inspiring, like-minded people long after the summer is over
what many of our campers describe as the best week of their life.
Payment Plans and Financial Aid
YEA Camp offers convenient payment plans to make monthly payments toward your tuition.
Unlike most specialty camps, YEA Camp offers financial aid for low-income youth who have not attended YEA Camp before and would not otherwise be able to afford to attend. If your family would need financial aid to attend, once the camper fills out their interest form, the parent or guardian will be directed to the Financial Aid application.
YEA Camp is a nonprofit organization committed to social justice and diversity in our programs. We do not turn eager campers away due to lack of funds. In order to accept campers on scholarship, we rely on an honor code to ensure that each family pays what they can and that funding is available for those who need it. We rely on tax-deductible donations to our scholarship program to continue this policy.
Thanks so much for your interest in YEA Camp! We hope to see you this summer!
Frequently Asked Questions
We know you were probably wondering....
The food at YEA Camp is amazing on many levels!
You can read all about it at https://yeacamp.org/vegan-summer-camp/
YEA Camp's top priority is keeping our campers and staff safe, which is why we made the decision to hold camp virtually in 2020 and 2021. Now that the vaccine is readily available for folks 5+, we feel we can gather in person with much less risk.
At the time of this writing, we are months before camp, and realistically a lot may change between now and then, so we will be keeping our camp community posted on our specific plans.
A few things we expect to do to try to keep everyone safe:
- Require proof of Covid vaccination for all campers and staff
- Rapid Covid test upon arrival
- Outdoor eating and activities where possible
- Spreading beds out in cabins
- Opening windows for improved ventilation
- 2 qualified health care professionals overseeing our health and safety protocols
If you have specific questions or concern, please let us know.
To preserve the special experience of YEA Camp, we collect camper phones at the start of camp to return at the end. While most campers are not a fan of this policy at the start of camp, many tell us at the end that they think it was important to the success of camp because it meant that people focused their attention on each other and on our time together.
We may have a Take Action day when campers will have access to their phones for us to work on different activist projects together.
It's hard to remember that throughout all of human history until the past 20 years ago nobody who ever lived had a cell phone. You'll be OK.
There's a lot of research that states that when someone is homesick and communicates with loved ones back home, that it actually makes people even more homesick.
For that reason, we don't encourage or structure time for campers to make or receive calls or texts from home.
Having said that, if a parent wants to speak to their child or a camper wants to call home, we will not refuse. All we ask is to be kept in the loop so we know what is going on and how we can be of support. So a parent can text our camp director if needed, who will arrange to have their child call them, and if a camper really wants to call home, they can let our camp director know and we'll make it happen.
We did raise our prices this year for a few reasons and want to explain why for anyone who wants to know.
- To add more curriculum and also more free time for fun and relaxation at YEA Camp, our session is 1 day longer this year. It's 9 days and 8 nights instead of 8 days and 7 nights, as our camps were for 10 years. That increases our costs, as we pay our venue per person and per night.
- Our new venue is amazing -- and expensive. The camp is totally new and is not cheap. This is partially because of the quality of the venue but also because prices have gone up after 2 years of losses due to Covid.
- We're giving our staff a raise this year because they deserve it.
- We expect to have increased costs associated with health and safety to reduce risk and keep us safe from Covid.
- The camp is on a lake where we can kayak and swim -- which means paying for lifeguards that we don't typically have to pay for.
- Inflation has led to all of our costs going up.
As our costs to put on the camp have gone up significantly, unfortunately we need to pass these on to our camp families. We hope you understand.
The good news is that if your family is unable to afford the full tuition to YEA Camp, you can apply for financial aid! Scroll back up for details on how. We do not want money to be the reason you cannot attend. YEA Camp is a nonprofit organization committed to making our programs as accessible as possible.
YEA Camp offers a full refund minus $100 admin fee until March 1, 50% refund until May 1. Alternatively, or after April 1, registration is fully transferable to a different session (including in future years) or to a different person (provided that they fill out their registration form and we agree that they are a good fit for the program, including their age, enthusiasm to attend, vaccination status, agreement to abide by our honor code, etc.) with no fee until 1 week before your session starts. If there's a need for last-minute cancellation, we can credit your funds toward future participation in one of our programs or transition it to a tax-deductible donation. Any cancellation fee we withhold can also be 100% credited toward a future session of YEA Camp you register for.
YEA Camp Schedule - Subject to Tweaking
We'll try not to include any spoilers....
Get settled in and help us create a safe space for everyone.
Play tons of games to the point that you forget to be self conscious or that as of a little while ago you didn’t even know anyone here.
Make amazing new friends you feel closer to than some of your friends at home. Yes, this will happen on the first day.
Recognize that you belong in this inspiring and supportive community of changemakers.
Explore the beautiful hiking trails and natural environment we are staying in.
Learn about past movements and activists who have helped advance social justice.
Deepen your understanding of the most significant social issues of our time and how they are interconnected.
Share about your own passions and be inspired by other people’s passions.
Feel appreciated and proud of yourself for caring so much.
Check in on how camp is going and offer your input so everyone has a great experience.
Strengthen your communication skills to collaborate better and get your message across confidently and effectively even with people who disagree with you.
Learn about what’s wrong with consumerism and go “shopping” at our Really Really Free Market!
Camper Choice Night! Dance party, karaoke, or game night, anyone?
Strengthen your understanding of social justice issues like racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Look deeply at negative messages you've heard and create healing for yourself and others to not believe the hurtful things people have told you.
Choose your IOI (issue of importance) you want to focus on and meet with your staff mentor and small group of campers passionate about the same issues you are.
Do a life-changing activity that will help you find your voice and care less about what others think of you.
Analyze the wide variety of ways to make a difference and tools to help you decide what to do.
Build skills to inspire others to make a difference - things like fundraising, running a school club, and grassroots outreach.
Arts Activism! Use your creativity to make a difference and collaborate on a project of your choice, such as spoken word, song, mural, or dance.
Courageously and safely explore the challenging emotions that we as caring people concerned about our world may feel.
Meet with your small group to start developing your action plan for after camp.
Learn about different organizations working on your cause and ways you can get involved with them.
Confront and move beyond limiting beliefs you have about yourself. (We all have them!)
The YEA Show! This is our version of a talent show. You can do something goofy and hilarious with fellow campers, perform a traditional "talent" or inform us about a cause you care about.
Choose your own adventure! Skillshare and teach-ins. We'll all learn and teach what you haven't learned yet and still want to know.
Get started making a difference on your cause working with your small group. Everyone will have a chance to contact their representatives, launch a fundraiser, create an awareness campaign, or other activism project of your choice.
Promise to keep in touch -- you'd better!
Share with family members about our awesome week and be part of our special YEA Camp graduation.
Try not to cry when it's time to go home! But it’s OK, we all probably will. Plus, there's nothing wrong with crying, It's just proof that you’re human.
Give so many hugs and then text and "friend" everyone from the car on the way home.
Bring your inspiration and positivity home with you and share it freely.
Changemaker Olympics! YEA Camp’s superfun version of color wars, this is your chance to try out applying everything you learned all week.
Create and present your action plan and get the standing ovation you deserve.
Be so inspired by everyone else’s plans your hope for humanity will go through the roof.
Night hike to celebrate and appreciate our special time together.
“I wanted to let you know how wonderful and vital your YEA camp was for our daughter! She not only loved her time there, but she came back with something which I believe will be of lasting value to her, namely a sense that she can make a difference in the world.”
- Mike, dad of Jesse, 13, California