Recent Programs: 2018 Encampment

See the 2018 Summer Encampment photo album »

Building Youth Activism at Encampment 2018

“I learned organizing skills, the importance of culture, history that I was mostly unaware of and the continuation of that history today. I experienced the ways that ordinary people can make change, and got a taste of cultures and communities that I knew nothing about previously”

— Maggie H., Washington, DC

The EFC prepares young people to be informed and responsible global citizens and leaders in the struggle for social justice. Encampers (ages 15–18) of different ethnic, religious, gender identity, geographic and economic backgrounds live and learn together, creating a diverse democratic community inspired and prepared to create a more just world. 

See caption2018 Encampers outside mayor's office in Jackson, MS.

The 2018 Encampment (June 30–July 24), held at Hinds Community College, Raymond, MS, focused on voting rights and education reform. The program wove together core and arts workshops, speakers, field trips, and service learning to provide a compelling living and learning experience.

While visiting Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, Encampers were exposed to the victories and hope in the struggle for justice, and encouraged to embrace the ongoing work for a better world.

At Montgomery’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Legacy Museum, Encampers learned about the legacies of slavery and the relationship between slavery and current-day mass incarceration.

“I now have a clearer understanding that people are fighting every day for what they believe in. It wasn't just the big people of history like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ida B. Wells who changed the world. It was all of the people giving their strength over to the movement. I now understand that if we want to make a change in our country, we are going to need everyone to fight.”

— Masud H., East Orange, NJ

See caption2018 Encampers and staff at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

“I thought I knew a good bit about Mississippi, but walking through the museums made me realize that in reality I didn't know that much.

— Hallie, Philadelphia, MS

Images in the museums and reflections in our circle challenged my assumptions. I faced many fears at the Encampment that I never would have managed to get through without the EFC.

— Asusena, Oxnard, CA

Faya Ora Rose Toure and Senator Hank Sanders with children and college interns from the Center for Nonviolence brought renewed hope through a musical and cultural presentation and dialogue.

Service Learning Projects

ACLU: Encampers worked with the media team on materials for a “Get Out the Vote” campaign and on census materials related to the upcoming elections.

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“My internship with the ACLU really opened my eyes to different ways that voters are still being suppressed. I had heard about voter rights issues, but had never really seen the issues until they were presented directly to me. Now I know that I can host voter rights workshops in my community and get connected with organizations that are already working on helping educate people and work for voter rights"

— Madison, Camarillo, CA

Encampers had a unique immersion in Jackson, MS, thanks to the collaboration of Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and his staff.

See captionEncampers with Mayor Lumumba.

See captionHinds County Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace gave the Encampers a tour that included the county court and showed them where records, including voter registrations, are kept.

Nollie Jenkins Family Center: Encampers learned about the projects the NJFC is working on, including the Sacred Soil Project — a documentary that examines the past, present and future experience of farmers and landowners of African American, Latin and Indigenous heritage. NJFC’s director Ellen Reddy brought Encampers to a farm owned by an African-American woman, where they harvested chilies and bell peppers, and collected eggs. The farmer shared her stories and the Encampers experienced life on the farm directly.

See captionEllen Reddy with Encampers in the chicken coop.

Southern Echo: At Southern Echo, Encampers looked at some progressive policies and initiatives to reform education in Mississippi. They learned about the challenges, and the people and organizations working to improve education in the state.

Environmental/Community Service Projects in Duck Hill and Lake Pushmataha (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians)

2018 Encampers and staff joined a July 4 celebration in Duck Hill, MS. Under the guidance of community leader Al White, Encampers pitched in and helped to clear fallen trees in preparation for a new project to protect the land from flooding and the creek from contaminants.

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As part of an environmental restoration project, Encampers helped to clear debris on Lake Pushmataha.

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Two-Day Immersion in the Culture of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

“Going to Choctaw was a breathtaking experience for all of us. We learned new cultures and new dances, and some of us even watched a stickball game for the first time. We experienced crazy weather, but still managed to clean the river. We went there to work, but also we had the honor to walk with Tristan and be part of his special stickball event. Lastly, we enjoyed a day at the fair and had lots of fun bonding."

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2018 Encamper Tristan (center) surrounded by fellow Encampers.

Core Workshops

“The Core & Arts Workshops taught me that social justice and activism can come in lots of different shapes and sizes."

Bernice H., Livingston, NJ

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Youth Activism and Community Building
Led by Jane Sapp & Michael Carter

  • What is youth activism?
  • How do young people approach work for social change?
  • What are their strategies?

These are some of the questions raised by the youth activism and community-building workshop. We invite experienced organizers to share their work, challenges and strategies.

The Encampers are asked to think about ways to energize and engage other young people to become active participants in their communities. We discuss not only what tools are needed to prepare for the work of social change but ways to build and strengthen communities in the process. Encampers express a desire to make a difference in the world. We have shaped this workshop to help them to find the steps,
practice and principles involved in becoming a social change agent.

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The Stories that Connect Us: Writing and Expressive Arts Workshop
Led by Elizabeth Summers

We look at movements that historically have been empowered and impacted by the leadership of young people and we ask the questions:

  • What makes a good citizen?
  • Why do young people not vote?
  • Do your representatives represent you?
  • What are the consequences of not voting?

“It didn't feel like an English class at school. We actually wrote down how we feel and used those poems it the final presentation — that was amazing and an honor."

—  Jocelyn, Richmond, CA

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Legacy of Racism
Led by Mtali Banda

In this workshop, participants learn about the history of racism in America and how it has been defined by law and institutions. The goal is to see why is it important to have political representation by seeing a history that denied these rights to marginalized groups, and what were the consequences of those denials. Through this lens, participants make connections to the voting rights struggle today, and the importance of culture and community as a means of resistance.

Arts Workshops

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Led by Jane Sapp & Mtali Banda

The music workshop encourages youth to use their voices and imagination through making music. We also feel that creating their own songs is a way of summarizing their experiences and is a process of analysis. This year, the Encampers once again created an incredible song that is a product of their work as a group. Through this process, they have learned how to use their collective voice.

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Theater Arts
Led by Elizabeth Summers

Theater games and having a sense of play are vital for problem solving, creativity, building relationships and imagining new possibilities. Play helps facilitate deep connections between people who do not know each other. We have discussions, play theater games, and use improvisation and skits to express the ideas of inclusion and exclusion/ belonging and not belonging/speaking out instead of fitting in. In doing so, we further examine the stories that connect us.

2018 Encampment Guest Speakers

Hollis Watkins, co-founder of Southern Echo, spoke to the Encampers about youth activism. He stated that to organize the community, you need to investigate, educate, negotiate and then demonstrate.

Leroy Johnson, co-founder of Southern Echo, spoke to the Encampers about “Connecting the Dots between Voter Rights, Census and Redistricting to Change the Policy Landscape.” He highlighted the importance of the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census and of re-districting.

Brett Bursey, South Carolina Progressive Network, spoke on the importance of organizing and education. He believes education is the key to organizing and promoting change locally, statewide and nationally.

Mayor Johnny B. Thomas, mayor of Glendora, MS, spoke to the Encampers about how the city of Glendora has managed to turn the tragedy of the Emmett Till murder into a demonstration of the power of resilience.

Faya Ora Rose Touré, Center for Nonviolence, Selma, Alabama. Toure and a group of children presented an inspiring play celebrating their African heritage and the beauty of Black culture. Young adult interns from the Center talked with the Encampers about their Get-Out-the-Vote campaign.

Senator Hank Sanders, Alabama Senate, 1982–present, informed the Encampers that when he joined the movement in the 1960s, he had no idea that the fight for justice would be this long. Yet, he continues to fight.

Tim Jeffries, U.S. Department of Justice, spoke about the current state of the opioid crisis — its impact on communities across the country and the current federal prevention and intervention initiatives. He solicited input from Encampers on substance abuse issues in their communities and answered questions from the Encampers. He encouraged Encampers to develop their own prevention strategies in their communities.

Cici Battle, director of Young People For (YP4), outlined voting challenges and strategies for the Encampers in her interactive workshop. A next-step program partner, YP4 is a national leadership development program for college-aged students that works to identify, empower and engage the newest generation of progressive leaders.

Ellen Reddy, executive director and co-founder of the Nollie Jenkins Family Center, and youth leaders from the organization spoke about the challenges they are addressing. These include excessive discipline, the silencing of Black girls’ voices and LGBTQ students being pushed out of school.

Tim Tubby, VP Human Relations, Pearl River Resort, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, presented a history of the land and people of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to the assembled Encampers, parents, alums and supporters at the 2018 InterGen(erational) Weekend.

InterGen(erational) Weekend/Get-Out-the-Vote Campaign

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2018 InterGen Presentation.

Each year, the Encampment brings together parents, alums, board members, community members and supporters as the Encampers share what they have learned in their Encampment and are welcomed into the larger EFC community.

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2018 Encampers present their Get-Out-the-Vote strategies.

A highlight of this election year was the kick-off of the EFC Get-Out-the-Vote campaign by the Encampers. Encampers shared their plan with the assembled parents, alums and supporters to educate their communities about the importance of voting. Request the EFC’s Voting Rights Organizations & Advocacy Guide.

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Encampers and parents in breakout group at 2018 InterGen.

“The InterGen weekend was awesome. I was impressed with how the youth took charge of the event and put together a play that was very moving. Life on the reservation today is far different from in the past. I must say Tristan learned quite a bit, from what he has told me. And he knows he can stand up and speak out for what he thinks is important and matters to him and his people. Thank you for giving him the knowledge and experience."

— Delilah Gibson, parent

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Masud (third from right).

“Our community circle made me realize that my contributions were valuable no matter how small or how big. That even if my contribution doesn't affect every single person in our community, it may reach out to one person. Now I know I can give my all, even if it's not the most articulate contribution. The InterGen committee and all of the chances I have had to lead have given me my confidence back. I am going to go back into my community ready to work."

— Masud, 2018 Encamper

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Steve Leibman (second from right) with Encampers Nevin and Erica (on the left) and alum Carol Ahlum (far right).

“The Intergen Weekend helped me renew a deep feeling of hope that our new young leaders will have the ability to go out and make an impact for social change. The alumni, parents and Encampment Board members were there to support, encourage and be present so everyone could see that “it takes a village” and deepen the ways we can learn from each other."

— Steve Leibman, EFC alum and board member

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Tracy Gary (center) with EFC board member Anne Klaeysen (far left), Carol Alhum EFC alum, education director Jane Sapp and former board member Hubert Sapp, far right.

“I came to inspire and left hope-filled and committed at the highest level. EFC is the only national network of those who care about youth getting social justice leadership skills and who know and share movement theory and connections as well. There is no other program that has so much care and analysis, and a curriculum model that not only engages youth, but gives them community, tools and wisdom that last a lifetime. Watch out, world, these Encampers are full of heart and smarts! "

— Tracy Gary, donor activist, Tiburon, CA

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The Encampment challenged my assumptions ...

... about social justice because it opened my eyes to the fact that there are many different tools that can be used to initiate change.

– Ayana, Brockton, MA


I learned that my voice has meaning ...

and that I need to break my barriers down and speak up. I must carry myself for the better as a person and in a community.

– Arrow, Walnut Grove, MS


The whole EFC experience has been empowering, ...

and has helped me see that I have the ability to make a difference. It’s also helped me understand my ability to connect with people from totally different backgrounds to mine.

– Maggie, Washington, DC


There has been a change in the way I view people, life and myself. ...

... Before the Encampment, I was undecided about speaking up, and after this experience, I know that when the situation arises, I will speak up for myself and others.

– Rosita, Oxnard, CA


I learned a lot about the unifying power of song ...

and the potential for creative performance that ordinary people carry. I also experienced communities and locations that contrast with my community at home, such as West Jackson, Selma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

– Nevin, San Francisco, CA


The EFC Summer Program allowed me to find my voice ...

... and recognize the potential I have to make change. The Core & Arts Workshops taught me that social justice and activism can come in lots of different shapes and sizes.

—Bernice, Livingston, NJ


The Encampment has made me look at many things differently ...

... and I want my friends to experience what I did. Building community and letting your voice be heard is important.

—Tristan, Choctaw, MS


EFC showed me that I can help by beginning to organize and educate ...

... young people on these [social justice] issues and we can begin to work together to initiate change.

—Jacoby, Lexington, MS


I think whether you have a specific interest for activism or not, the experience as a whole would be useful for any teen. ...

... You get out of your normal life and experience a new community, culture and environment. Learning about our country’s issues is something most people do not get to experience in their own public school systems, so I feel as though most people would jump at this experience.

— Masud, East Orange, NJ

KomiThe Encampment taught me that I have a voice and power, even though I am young. ...

... Society will look down on me, but the Encampment sees me as an equal, so I am stronger in spirit and in mind.

—Kendra, Philadelphia, MS

JakyaI learned to talk to people I never thought I would. ...

... I learned to respect my opinions and those of others, and that more than one idea is right. I thought that activism looked like one thing — protesting — but I learned that it is many things.

—Samara, Springfield, MA


EFC gives people a chance to shine as leaders ...

... and helps get people out of their comfort zone and speak out a lot more. It changed me to be a lot more open, take on more challenges and more risk, and speak up — that my voice means something. I also learned how to work better with people whom I may dislike.

—Isaiah, Richmond, CA


The EFC made me realize I do have a voice in what goes on around me, …

... and also made me aware of what’s going on in America today. I believe I can help by informing people in my community about their voting rights and what education can do for them.

—Hallie, Philadelphia, MS


I feel it imperative for me to continue to educate myself …

... while using the knowledge I have gained at the EFC to create awareness and to organize in my community.

—Jocelyn, San Francisco, CA


The EFC made me realize I do have a voice in what goes on around me, …

... and also made me aware of what’s going on in America today. I believe I can help by informing people in my community about their voting rights and what education can do for them.

—Erica, Newark, NJ


The Encampment has changed the way I think of my own community. …

... Three weeks ago, I knew that I was very much surrounded by White people similar to myself, but it was not until coming here that I truly realized how lacking in diversity my community is. This has made me more observant of the many all- White spaces that exist in my life.

—August, Newton, MA


You don't always have to be on the front line to make a change in social justice. …

... That doesn’t mean that I think people can sit back and do nothing and still make a change — you have to make changes in your everyday life to make other changes in the world.

—Madison, Camarillo, CA


Our study of Jackson, Mississippi helped me see that within a small radius, …

... lifestyles can completely change depending what kind of family you’re born into and/or the color of the skin that wraps you.

—Diana, Oxnard, CA


The Encampment is a good opportunity to learn about your culture, …

... and culture is the key to fighting for freedom. It is also an opportunity to learn about other cultures and ways that you can make a community so everyone will feel welcomed.

—Maryam, Bronx, NY


Participation in the EFC has changed my entire life in many ways. …

... I never thought I would sing in front of a crowd. I grew out of my shell and I have become more inspired. This program challenged my assumptions. I faced many fears here that I would not have managed to get through without the EFC.

—Asusena, Oxnard, CA


The EFC has let me see what I'm really capable of, …

... and do things that I would never have seen myself doing, like acting and singing. It has also helped me become more aware of what’s going on in society … I’ve started an after-school program — you have to start somewhere.

— Nevaeh, Springfield, MA


We have seen life-changing things that we can use to change ourselves, …

... our communities, our cities, our states, our country and our world.

— Alonzo, Oxford, MS

2018 Summer Program Staff

  • Elizabeth Summers, Core Workshop Leader
  • Mtali Banda, Core Workshop Leader
  • Alicia (Kookie) Green, Onsite Administrative Coordinator
  • Amina Jordan-Mendez, Assistant Site Administrator
  • John Elmore, Recreation Coordinator

2018 Summer Interns

  • Marquise Steward, Senior Intern
  • Nia Allen, Intern
  • Viseth Loeung, Intern

Year-round Staff

  • Margot Gibney, Executive Director
  • Marion Silverbear, Administrator
  • Michael Carter, Program Director
  • Jane Sapp, Education Director