Silicon Valley FACES' Camp Everytown program continues to have a profound impact on youth participants that many want to repeat the experience again. Isolated in a camp located in the Santa Cruz mountains, students bond over their differences and learn respect and acceptance. Participating in stereotype-breaking activities, they address pre-conceived notions of race, gender and privilege.
Case in point is the South Bay high school that is celebrating its 10th anniversary of sending their students to participate in the Camp Everytown experience.
“I would love to find a way for more students to attend, especially since the school community is growing in numbers,” states one of the participating teachers. “It would be great to be able to go twice a year.”
The program has become popular among many students because of positive feedback. Students from various high schools throughout Santa Clara County have praised the camp’s success, proudly sporting the well-known Camp Everytown T-shirts and asserting new friendships on their school campus.
As one participating 12th grade student puts it:
“From all the talk, I just expected it to be extremely emotional. It was very emotional but I was also educated more on issues in our world. One thing I can say is the experience was one I’ll never forget.”
It's a common sight to see every year, and this year is no exception. High school students talking excitedly as they get off the bus returning from their school's annual visit to Silicon Valley FACES' Camp Everytown. The only difference is that many of the students getting off the bus are talking to people who were complete strangers before the four day, three night trip to Camp Harmon in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
At Camp Everytown, students, school faculty and community members participate in activities based on the ideas of promoting acceptance of gender, race, ethnicity, religious belief and sexual orientation. Many of the students who attend Camp Everytown are nominated by their teachers because of their leadership potential (both traditional and non-traditional), while others sign up after hearing friends' stories of Camp Everytown's dramatic, personal effect.
"I've had many of my students say that it is the most impacting experience they've had," says an assistant principal from one of the high schools that has been attending Camp Everytown for the last 4 years. "While it's a pain to recruit the students and find staff that can do it and set the day, even with all those pieces in the process, it's still worth it."
The trust between students created by the Camp Everytown atmosphere allows people to candidly share stories that they had never mentioned before to anyone. Many students connect on an emotional level as their understanding about topics such as gender disrespect and bullying change from just textbook statistics to personal, human stories.
"I learned how not to judge people on the surface and what they look like because a lot of the time, you still have a lot of things in common," says a 12th grade student who recently attended camp. "The Camp Everytown experience was pretty eye-opening for me. I was really blind when it comes to seeing from someone else's perspective because I saw things MY way, and going for the very first time opened my eyes."
We extend a heartfelt "THANK YOU!" to our recent donors for helping us continue to offer the Camp Everytown experience to high school students in Santa Clara County!
Camp Everytown, provided by Silicon Valley FACES, builds teamwork through respect, appreciation for diversity, and leadership skills. This transformative leadership training program reduces stereotypes and prejudice and increases understanding and respect, building core values that promote strong, safe communities. Through Camp Everytown, participants are empowered to build positive relationships across the deepest social divides.
Students who participate in Camp Everytown complete a written survey about their experience. Evaluations from Program Year 2009-2010 show us that 85% of the students who participated in Camp Everytown rated their experience as “Outstanding,” a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. 75% of the students ranked themselves as having increased their understanding of stereotypes, bias and prejudice. Youth have also expressed an increase in confidence and ability to be a leader for positive change. 100% of the students stated that they would recommend Camp Everytown to their friends.
Student were also asked on the evaluation survey to provide additional written comments on their Camp Everytown experience. The following are some comments taken from those student surveys:
“I am grateful for this program and how it inspires people to make the change not just with themselves but have the positive attitude to change society.”
“Because of everything I’ve learned about race, gender and ethnicity I am a smarter and more understanding person.”
“My leadership ability never really showed until I came [to camp] and now I know my potential.”
“I will stand up for not just [some] but for everyone that’s being hurt.”
“I feel more compelled to change the world.”
“The most important part was integrating and associating with people I never would have otherwise.”
“This really helped me find myself and become emotionally stronger.”
“The most important part was opening up, hearing people’s stories and learning how to change the world by changing how I think.”
The students’ own words clearly provide testimony to the immense value and transformative impact that Camp Everytown has on their behavior and attitude towards others.
We extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to all of our supporters! Without you, many of these youth would not have the opportunity to participate in the Camp Everytown experience.