July 1-15, 2013 marked the first Encampment of the 21st Century! The Encampment experience came about through the efforts of Encampment volunteers and staff, combined with the committed participation and adventurous spirits of our first group of 21st Century Encampers.

The goals for the summer pilot program were high:

  • Give a socio-economically, geographically, and ethnic/culturally diverse group of young people a brief experience of what the Encampment can be.
  • Solicit feedback from the Encampers about their vision for a “21st century Encampment program.”
  • Engage more alumni in Encampment-related work.
  • Make connections in several new communities for youth recruitment.

These goals were met and exceeded! Current and past alums emerged ready to move forward, with greater understanding and increased commitment.

2013 Encampers came with their own expectations:
“…to learn about leadership…practice self-government, and explore current issues with other young people.”
“…to meet new people and hear their stories.”
“…to get out of state and explore independence, to get ready for college.”

In follow-up conversations with the young people, these results shone through:

  • They met people that they never would have met in ordinary life and got to know them in a deeper way that made one person exclaim, “We are like family.”
  • They learned about leadership: “I learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was—how to adjust, cope, and be a leader.”
  • One Encamper remarked on the role of group process:
    “We started out kind of rough and we progressively got better until we got to the point we could have discussions without tripping each other. So in terms of being a facilitator, that’s very helpful for me. The connections that we’ve been able to form in just two weeks, it was just amazing.”

Plans are underway for the 2014 summer program, which will take place at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Contact efcyouthprogram@gmail.com for application materials.