Recent Programs: 2014 Encampment
The July 2014 program brought youth and staff from across the country to Chicago, IL for a 3-week program. For this year's Encampers, highlights included:
- Creating a working, self-governing community focused on civic engagement and social justice.
- Living in an Encampment community with youth and adults from many cultures and backgrounds.
- Exploring critical local and national issues through Core Workshops.
- Developing their leadership potential.
- Visiting community organizations and engaging with local activists.
- Helping to restore Lake Michigan through a service learning project.
- Meeting with nationally known activists, authors, and experts in the fields of social justice and human rights.
- Sharing their ideas through the arts: multimedia, dance, song.
- Getting to know generations of Encampment alums during the Intergenerational Weekend.
- Inspiring themselves and each other to commit to work for equity and justice in their communities.
Encampers and staff
Core Workshops provide the bedrock of the Encampment experience. This year's workshops included:
- Social Movements
Encampers break down the issues
(facilitated by Michael Carter)
- Through an Indigenous Lens
(facilitated by Mabel Picotte)
- Inner View/Community Journalism
(facilitated by Anika Nailah)
- Community Organizing (facilitated by Aisha
Encampers selected their workshop based on their interests. Core Workshop groups participated in research, discussions, and field work specific to their topics, planned and gave presentations, etc. The Core Workshop groups worked closely together each week, with their staff facilitator, and got to know each other very well through their work.
Encamper Leadership Teams
The Encamper Leadership Teams gave Encampers opportunities to take active leadership within the Encampment community. Each
Encampers in group discussion
Encamper was part of a Leadership Team and each team took leadership of one of the weeks of the program. Leadership Teams had a range of responsibilities, including making decisions and involvement in planning the Morning Inspiration that kicked off each day's activities.
In keeping with EFC tradition, the 2014 Encampment spent the first week establishing their internal community and getting to know their surrounding environment. Encampers asked questions such as: "What is democracy? What are types of democracy? What are other forms of government?" The Core Workshops and Creative Workshops got underway. Field trips included a meeting with human rights activist Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Catholic Church. Staff member Alex Coffin-Lennear reflected on the group’s introduction to the church: “. . . we were reminded of the magnitude of the violence by a 10’X10’ wall filled with pictures of children, teenagers, and adults of Chicago who had lost their lives to senseless acts of violence. Saint Sabina is a different kind of Catholic church— the emphasis is on social justice issues, the eradication of gangs, and the programs developed within the church to assist not only their members, but the people of the community.”
Encampers on their way to a field trip
The theme for Week Two was Exploring the Local Community. During this time, Encampers dug deeper into their Core Workshops and connected with local activists and environmentalists. Working with Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, Encampers contributed to environmental research and lakefront rehabilitation at Lake Michigan. Community governance activities, large and small group recreation, and Morning Inspiration continued to be important parts of the Encampment experience. Encampers grappled with questions such as: "What is community?" "When do I need to speak, and when do I need to listen?"
The third week focused on preparation for the Intergenerational Weekend and for the experience of returning to home communities across the nation. Encampers asked: "How can I take this experience back home with me?" "How can I share the resources I have gained?" They created presentations, songs, dances, and films. They engaged in reflection and program evaluation. They blogged. During the Intergenerational Weekend, each Encamper was paired with an Encampment alum from an earlier decade; conversations blossomed into connections as both alums and Encampers found common ground in the struggle for justice.
The excellence of the 2014 Encampment would not have been possible without the efforts of this year's stellar staff: Michael Carter, Alex Coffin-Lennear, Kookie Green, Anika Nailah, Mabel Picotte, Aisha Truss-Miller, as well as Program Director Jane Sapp.
Each staff member brought a wealth of talent, skill, and knowledge to the program. The Core Workshops and Creative Workshops provided Encampers with opportunities to think critically, explore new ideas, connect with the local community, and give voice to their growing leadership.
The work of Executive Director Margot Gibney, the administrative support of Marion Silverbear, and the efforts of countless volunteers in Chicago and elsewhere, were also instrumental in the success of this summer's program.