Strengthening Democracy by Building Community

The Encampment creates a multicultural democratic community whose participants experience that another way is possible. They live, learn and work together focused on racial, gender, economic and environmental justice. They gain critical thinking and organizing skills and meet activists working for change locally and nationally.

The Summer Encampment … and beyond

The Encampment summer program is a transformational experience that ignites and supports activism.

We ask the questions: “How did we get here, and what can I do to change it?”

Our work with young people has shown us that they want to lead, they believe in fighting for justice, and that they require tangible resources to engage in social justice work in their own communities. The summer intensive provides an experience of a multicultural democratic community and a grounding in basic skills for being an informed and responsible activist. The young people take this transformative experience back home, where they create and/or lead diversity and inclusion clubs in their high schools; create podcasts on mental health; participate in voter registration and other racial, gender and environmental justice campaigns; initiate ecycling and or composting systems at their schools and educate and encourage other to participate.

We augment this with ongoing training programs and experiences that allow young people to blossom into activists over time. We provide young people with access to local and national resources to support them wherever their journey for justice leads. Learn more about our programs »

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Click for more about our video speakers.

Jason Warwin (EFC Alum 1991) calls his Encampment experience his awakening, He is the co-founder of The Brotherhood Sister Sol in Harlem, New York. View his alum story – the Encampment was my awakening.

Eleyna Fugman (EFC Alum 1991) talks about how the Encampment influenced her life. She is the Executive Director of TischPDX in Portland, Oregon. View her alum story – building relationships across class and race.

As part of the 2023 Encampment, Encampers produced public service announcements about issues of concern to them. In this video, Ola, Melanie Jessica and Brooklyn share their PSA topics. Click here to learn more about the 2023 summer intensive.

Peter Neufeld (EFC Alum 1966) , co-founder of the Innocence Project, talks about the impact of the Encampment program on his life’s work.

Alum Stories features alums talking about their EFC experience and its impact on their lives.


Local Program Has Institutional Impact

Our year-round program has created a powerful institutional impact in the Rio School District of Ventura County. In 2019, a group of young Latinx Encampers with staff and community support created the Pesticide Free Soil Project (PFSP) in response to their concerns regarding pesticide use on and near their school campuses that have been shown to cause health problems.

This initiative resulted in numerous policy shifts over the years, including four schools in the Rio School District creating pesticide-free school sites. Moreover, as a result of EFC youth leadership, the school district has funded and implemented environmental education in their curriculum, reduced pesticide use on school sites, and purchased land for a community and school learning garden that will generate organic produce for school meals. All of these changes help to address the larger issue of climate change in our world.  Learn more about the PFSP »

A proven experiential educational approach to multicultural democracy.

“…Changes which trainees most frequently saw in themselves were increases in tolerance and understanding, in maturity, in independence, and in activism… Friendships to an extraordinary extent crosscut class lines. . .”

— Herbert Hyman, Columbia University School of Applied Research Evaluation of the Encampment for Citizenship


Eleanor Holmes Norton, civil rights activist and long-standing Congresswoman (DC), is an alum of the 1957 Encampment. She says the Encampment is …

one of the most significant models for getting young people seriously and thoughtfully involved in public policy and matters of local and national importance. I will never forget my own experience as a young person eager for discovery of the issues at that time.” (center, during a visit by the 2013 Encampment)


“I was a member of the Encampment in 1966, at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky. It was a powerful moment in our country’s history, and it all swirled around us, even in a small college setting. My experience opened my eyes, filled my heart and confirmed my commitment to make working for social change the center of my life. And I know—without a moment’s hesitation—that the experience I had at the Encampment for Citizenship in 1966 was one of the most important formative events of the commitments I have to this day”.

— Miles S. Rapoport, former president, Demos and Common Cause, co-author of 100% Democracy (shown on left). He is the Executive Director of 100%Democracy, an iniitiative for universal voting.

These are just two examples of EFC alums who has devoted their life to public service. There are many more in all walks of life. A short list includes:

Our History has more notable alums and supporters.

Hear alums from many generations talking about the EFC’s impact on their lives.

Eleanor Roosevelt with 1946 Encampers
Eleanor Roosevelt with 1946 Encampers
Eleanor Roosevelt with 1946 Encampers

Follow PFSP on Instagram

Check out our Instagram account for news and events.

I learned how to build relationships and understand folks across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, geography.

EFC taught me praxis. We learned about the systems of oppression and ways to address them. I still remember going to the fields to pick lettuce with the United Farm Workers and holding a youth conference called Empowering Youth Educating Society, which later became a project of the Encampment. Most importantly, EFC gave me the tools of deep listening, critical thinking, and humility/patience to build towards the self and social transformation we all need and deserve. 

Alex Tom, Executive Director of the Center For Empowered Politics.

We are strengthening democracy by creating community.