Hey Hey YEA Camp!!!!

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Hey everyone!! No I didn’t drop off the face of the earth -I was at camp! Youth Empowered Action Camp to be exact! You may recall my mentioning of it here a little while ago -well I made it and I have seriously been changed forever. This past week was filled with laughter, tears, learning, change making, and bonds that will last for the rest of my life. The gratitude I have for this past week is beyond words, and if I were to relay everything that has happened this would go down in history as the longest post ever -so I will just try to capture as much of it as I can for you all.

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This journal is filled with 50 pages of information, reflections, skills, quotes, things I want to do and books I want to read. And it doesn’t even begin to cover this week.

Let me explain YEA Camp. It is a camp designed for young people who want to change the world! Every single person there is passionate about making a difference -whether it be environmental activism, animal rights, LGBTQ equality, racism, bullying, human trafficking and so much more. We learn the skills we need to take our passions (Issues of Importance – IOI) and put them into action! It is an activist camp-but don’t think I’m about to go get myself arrested. We learned what activism truly means :finding a cause to be passionate about and actively working to make a difference.

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Just a few of the things we did at camp…;)

It took place in the Santa Cruz mountains and it was absolutely beautiful

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Each day was absolutely packed with activities – workshops, hikes, games, journaling

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I wrote a poem, inspired by the beautiful environment I was surrounded by:

Joy in my heart

beating

flowing through my veins

radiates!

inside out

to my feet

pointing and dancing

floating and leaping

the earth between my toes

connected.

to my hands

grasping, clapping

feeling

water cascades between fingertips

peaceful.

and, at last

at first

at once

to my mouth

shouts!

sings!

praises of life and love

proclaiming to all to see

to hear

then silence

a quiet joy

at one

with nature

my neighboors

myself.

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(this was the least busy day…)

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I can’t even describe to you how much I have learned and grown from this camp. I went expecting to learn about how to make a difference but I would never have imagined that my life would be changed. The love and commitment from everyone (all 28 campers and 13 staff) was so immense. We shared our goals, our accomplishments, our pains and secrets and laughs and friendships. I have become closer to these wonderful people -whom I did not know two weeks ago- than some people I have known my entire life!  Everyone did nothing but build each other up – supporting and hugging and helping each other to grow!

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I came to camp passionate about animal rights/ veganism and the environment -but I have grown to be passionate about so much more. Every single issue that people had – I want to help them make a difference. There were no age or gender barriers, no discrimination for what people thought or believed or who they were. This camp was so open and accepting and loving that I can’t wait to make this world a better place -Everyone is inherently good -this camp taught me that.

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We all wrote messages to each other on posters, much like a yearbook. Mine is now hanging in my room so I can see it every day.

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Every issue -every person and every story – is connected.

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We wrote a song! (you can listen here!! )

We made a video that I will post once its on Youtube!
And we had a lot of random dance parties ;)

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Even in the kitchen during dinner….

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We created a mandala of our perfect world -the one that we will create- full of acceptance and peace

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This week meant so much to me. Not only do I feel empowered to make a difference and appreciate so many new issues (and suddenly become more aware of our consumption -it took 5 minutes before I could let my mom put plastic straws and paper plates in our cart the other day-never again!) but I have gained so much confidence! I opened up to forty people about my struggles. I allowed myself foods (still vegan) I haven’t eaten in years. I felt truly and honestly beautiful and now I can finally allow that light that I have been hiding shine out into the world. Not only am I going to be so much more active in the issues that I care about but I have been inspired to take all that this week gave to me and I am going to share it with my community. I decided to start the first ever YEA club at my school -empowering even more students to make a difference.

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What the other campers are planning to do is incredible! They are raising funds to start a school in a third world country, petitioning to have their schools do meatless mondays, compostable lunch trays, and anti bullying programs. They are leafletting and tabling and teaching and advocating and creating their own environmental policies. One girl is planning on starting her own non profit Cow Sanctuary, and is now raising funds to save her first cow so she can learn how to take care of the beautiful creatures (You can like her FB page and learn about it here!!). Another girl has been selling cookies to raise money for donating to stop human trafficking (FB Page) and has only $300 to go before she reaches her goal of $2,000! And that is just a small portion of everything that these amazing kids are doing!

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My desire to advocate has turned from an idea to a tangible reality. I don’t want to make a difference. I WILL make a difference. I wish I could express to you everything that we did, the empowerment I received, the way I have changed, but my heart is too full to put it into words. All I can say (and keep saying) is that this week was a turning point for me. Life changing. I can do anything.

I really hope that everyone gets the chance that I did to make a difference! This was the 5th year of the camp, and there is one in California, Oregon, and Massachusetts. Go check out their  website and Facebook page to learn more, and click here for more pictures from this week!!!

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16 thoughts on “Hey Hey YEA Camp!!!!

  1. Wow!
    This all sounds so amazing. I’m sure this was a unique experience and so,so beneficial for you,girl!
    I think it’s awesome how you want to make a change in this world. Honestly,who doesn’t? But most of the people dreaming about it don’t dare to ACT – which you do,and I admire that strength and courage of yours so very much!
    I wish there was a camp like this in Germany,I’d love to participate.

    • Thank you Kat! I really think you should look to see if there is a camp, or program/class etc like this in Germany because it was so amazing Im sure you would love it! Making changes for the world, and making changes for yourself. Empowerment is truly empowering!

  2. Wow, that sounds like it was an absolutely wonderful experience, and I am SO happy that you got to attend–I am sure you learned a lot and were able to connect with some amazing people. I love that poem you wrote; it is so beautifully written and is filled with so much joy! That honor code is great, and is something that I think more people should try to follow on a daily basis. All those causes that you mentioned are fantastic, and I am glad that everyone there was so open and accepting. You should be very proud of yourself for actually getting out there and doing something to “make a difference”–with people like you in the world, I have so much more faith in the goodness of mankind:) You are such a special and wonderful person, and I know you have SO much to offer the world!

    • Thank you so much!it really was a wonderful experience and I am so ready to take on the world now! The honor code was awesome -they explained that this wasn’t like an honor code at school-it was actually enforced and we had touch-in meetings to make sure everyone was following it.

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  5. I just wanted to say how unbelievably inspiring this post was to me. I myself and extremely passionate about social justice, and I read this during a time when I was becoming wrapped up in my own problems and forgetting the things that were important to me, and this post really re-inspired me and motivate me to keep in mind the power we have as individuals to make a change. I just wanted to thank you for posting this as it really and to know that it really motivated me to focus on things bigger than myself and help actively make change in this world. I recently went on a similar trip with World Vision and met some truly amazing people, and I just wanted to let you know that this post truly impacted me to help me once again start fighting for what I believe in. Thank you, and I love your blog! :)

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