Memories of Ed

BY Carol Ahlum

I met Ed Peeples in the summer of 1966 when I participated in the Encampment in Barbourville, Kentucky. I was 16 years old. At that time, I had no idea that this EFC was the first to be held in the South. In 1966, Ed was the director of this Encampment. I knew him as the guy who gave orders (even though we as Encampers made our own rules) and the guy who had a wife and two small children who lived on campus near the Encampment dorm.

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1966 Kentucky workshop group: Carol Ahlum (bottom row, left). Can you tell us who else is in this picture?




When I reconnected with the Encampment about four years ago, I learned about Ed’s autobiography, Scalawag. (In it, he describes how white supremacists besieged our 1966 Encampment.) Ed Peeples in middle at 66KY

Ed Peeples (center on ground) with the 1966 Kentucky staff. Read more in Scalawag!

After reading Scalawag, I called him and we had a long conversation about our lives, about growing up White in a segregated society. I had grown up in rural Pennsylvania north of Philadelphia; Ed in Richmond, Virginia. We also connected over our involvement with Friends (Quakers). I talked about being a member of the local Friends Meeting. He sent his oldest daughter to the same Quaker camp in Frederick County, Maryland, to which my husband and I sent our daughters. He also worked with the American Friends Service Committee in Prince Edward County, Virginia, when that county closed all its public schools in the 1950s rather than desegregate. We spoke of his work with the new R.R. Moton Museum in Farmville, Virginia, in a historic “colored” public school building that tells the story of this horrific period in Virginia’s history.

I encouraged and helped Ed to add his name and his autobiography to the listing of civil rights activists in the internet archive of Civil Rights Movement Veterans.

After reconnecting with Ed, I participated in two EFC InterGen weekends, including last summer (2018) near Jackson, Mississippi.

IMG_2583Left to right, at the 2018 InterGen, Raymond, MS: Anne Klaeysen, EFC board member; Carol Ahlum; Tracy Gary, development team, Jane Sapp (Education Director) and Hubert Sapp (former Board member).

On the way back to Maryland, I visited Ed in Richmond, Virginia. In spite of his mobility and health issues, he spoke passionately about local and national issues, such as removing Confederate monuments. He also described lovingly the activities of his four daughters and wife. And he spoke of his joy that the Encampment continues.

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Ed (far right) at the 2013 Encampment, Richmond, VA.

Do you have a memory of Ed you would like to share? Write us at

The importance of being informed and making a difference—alum interview with Daniel Garcia, 1966 DC

What did you learn at the Encampment? I learned the importance of activism, education, knowledge, and involvement in the community. We learned the critical importance of being aware of political views on both sides including those views by divergent groups that we may be wary of, both from the Left and Right.  Stokely Carmichael, Robert Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, and other political/community leaders were speakers at our Encampment. The EFC emphasized the importance of being informed and of making a difference

How has the Encampment influenced your life? The Encampment taught me not to be shy to take risks—to explore and journey into unfamiliar life experiences to enrich one’s self.  Upon returning from my EFC experience, I joined three other Hispanic students at the University of Southern California to organize the Mexican American Student Association (MASA). USC recognized MASA as a Hispanic student organization for the first time ever.

In 1970, I won a three-year management internship with the U.S. Government, thus becoming part of the first group of Hispanics in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, & Welfare Management Intern Program.  My first intern assignment was at the HEW in New York City. I worked on assessing the federal government’s impact upon urban cities receiving federal dollars for community/social improvement in cities such as Hoboken, East Orange, Passaic, N.J.; and Buffalo, South Bronx, N.Y.

In the ‘70s, while working for HEW in Washington, D.C., I left my desk in an obscure Washington, D.C. office to join a hundreds of marchers on Pennsylvania Avenue who marched in support of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers Union. We were protesting the work lives of those who worked in the farm fields across America. I was sprayed with tear gas that afternoon, and later returned to my desk in that obscure Washington, D.C. office building.

In addition, after working for the U.S. government for 47 years, I did not feel compelled to join the ranks of Beltway consultants to enrich myself with money.  I chose the honorable profession of a school bus driver in my local community.  Been doing that since retiring in 2015. What a blast!

Why is the EFC important now?  Balance.  The extreme right, and Nationalist Right and current administration are destroying our democracy.   When I was a young Encamper, the threat of the Soviet Union then was a constant in the news.  Now, Russian assets may be influencing our elections and government.

What is your favorite memory or story from the Encampment? My EFC roommate, now a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Parting the Waters, America in the King Years, was back then my great friend and social partner during those weeks on campus at the University of Maryland. We had good times, getting hyped up on the importance of social justice, and making a difference in our community.

What motivated you to go to the Encampment? In 1966, my college political science professor at East Los Angeles College, Dr. Helen Miller Bailey, strongly encouraged me to attend. She paid for my expenses. A 2014 Book of her Life by author Dr. Rita Soza captured my own Life story as a Chicano growing up in East LA.  The Book is entitled:  “Helen Miller Bailey: The Pioneer Educator and Renaissance Woman Who Shaped Chicano(a) Leaders”

My interest was taking a risk to get out of East LA.  Had I stayed in East LA during the summer, I probably would have been like many friends at the time – in trouble with the LAPD, in jail or on the streets, even though I had reluctantly applied for, and won admission to, the University of Southern California.

I wanted to learn how I could make a difference working for the US government. Moreover, I wanted to get a J-O-B and stay out of trouble with the law.

When you arrived, what was your first impression of the Encampment?  I saw many pretty girls and lots of White folks.  There were many students who had “funny accents” (Russian, French, and Southern U.S. country-speak such as my roommate Taylor had (He was from Georgia, I think)).

What topic did you spend the most time on at the Encampment and what did you learn? We learned about the political landscape and interrelationship of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. I was impressed that high-level politicians and community activists came to speak with us or were willing to have us visit their offices.

 How did the Encampers get along? How did this change over the time you were together? In the beginning, some were aloof and avoided others. In addition, cliques formed.  However, we all got along.  Some stayed with others who they felt comfortable with—folks like themselves.  That was okay since we had time during the evening hours to all be together. We all were young.  At first, many of us were Introverts, like me, who soon became, outward and more able to interact because of the EFC experience.  There were tensions initially with my roommate Taylor and me.  We didn’t talk much during our initial times living together, but later became close friends and at the end, I became an emotional wreck, tearing up when we said goodbye.



Reflections on One Example of Ed Peeples’s Impact

by Miles Rapoport, Encampment for Citizenship, Kentucky ’66

Ed Peeples

Edward H. Peeples, Jr.

It is almost impossible to overstate the impact that the Encampment for Citizenship had on my life and the lives of about 50 high school students in that summer of 1966. I attended the Encampment at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, along with two friends from my white high school in Great Neck, New York.

All of us were already politically aware, liberal and active in our high school on civil rights issues and the war in Vietnam, but the experience I had in Barbourville changed my entire way of looking at the world.

It was a moment in our country’s history. It was the moment of the War on Poverty, and we went out into the “hollers” to paint mailboxes to encourage people to participate. It was the summer of the Watts rebellion, Stokely Carmichael and Black Power. It was a moment of youth rebelling against the tight social morés of the 1950s, and all of that swirled around us.

Ed and his team did a magnificent job of assembling a remarkable group of 50 students from around the country. We were an amazing mix of geography, race, class and social experiences. Ed and the staff did an equally magnificent job of holding the group together, turning conflicts into learning experiences, balancing the nurturing of experimentation with the responsibilities of supervision. We struggled, we argued, we learned, we understood worlds more about other people’s life experiences, and we formed bonds that have lasted a lifetime. And we became life-long fighters for social justice, imbued with a far-stronger sense of commitment than when we came.

It was only later, when I read Ed’s autobiography, Scalawag, that I learned how dangerous a moment it also was externally. Ed dealt with deep community opprobrium, threats of violence and even death, a drive-by shooting, and decisions about whether to shut down the Encampment, all of which we Encampers were only vaguely aware of. We stayed open, we stayed positive, and Ed’s vigilance and courage saw us through.

Ed is gone now, but the lives he changed just in that one summer, added to the infinite examples of his courage and compassion, constitute a powerful legacy, and an enormous contribution to the clearly-still-unfinished struggle for equality, justice and peace.

Thank you, Ed Peeples. You changed my life forever, and I love you for it.


Miles Rapoport is a senior practice fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. He is a former president of Demos and of Common Cause, as well as serving in public office for many years where he was a strong advocate for economic and racial justice, and a fully inclusive democracy. In his current role at the Kennedy School, Miles works to connect the faculty and students at the school to the ‘field of practice’ of democracy reform, including issues of expansion of voting participation, gerrymandering, and campaign finance reform. He writes frequently on democracy issues for The American Prospect magazine, and serves on the Boards of State Voices, Everyday Democracy, The American Prospect, and the Scherman Foundation.

The EFC, combating hate, and the need for the resurgence of good citizenship in the U.S.

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We interviewed Dr. Glory Van Scott about her Encampment experience and why the EFC is important today. You can hear her in person by joining her conversation with Dr. Anne Klaeysen at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, May 16, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Tickets available at The event is a celebration of her memoir Glory: A Life Among Legends. Dr. Glory is donating partial proceeds to support participation of New York-area youth in the 2019 Encampment.

What did you learn at the Encampment? I learned that, if you are politically active, you can make a change. The teachers would step aside and let the Encampers take a position and defend it. It was a catalyst for me to do what I have done with my life. When you finished the Encampment, you looked at the world in a different way. You knew you would use what you learned and go on and build something from what they gave you — use it and use it well.

What is your favorite memory or story from the Encampment? We visited with Eleanor Roosevelt at Hyde Park. We sat on the ground and she talked to us. I was taking notes and I asked her, “How do we change so prejudice will not exist?” She replied that it was up to each one of us to make this change by starting in our own backyards. This, of course, was exactly what we were learning at the Encampment.

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Glory Van Scott (center, toward right) taking notes while Eleanor Roosevelt speaks, 1953 Encampment.

What motivated you to go to the Encampment? I came from a family where we all read and we discussed politics and voting. I was aware of inequity from a young age and wanted to do something to help. When I was older, I was a student at the Abraham Lincoln Cultural Arts Center in Chicago. I loved my teachers and classes there. It was run by Quakers and we had wonderful teachers from different countries. Our teachers asked us to think about situations such as the Japanese internment camps, and taught us that we had a responsibility to care for others. An older dancer who I admired went to the Encampment and came back talking about what a great experience it was. I was ready — I knew I wanted to go!

When you arrived, what was your first impression of the Encampment? It was unreal at Fieldston! There were kids from the South, the North, all over; every culture and ethnicity. My best friend, David Rothenberg, was from New Jersey. There were so many people from everywhere — it was the ultimate gumbo!

How has the EFC influenced your life? There were so many experiences that together made a change in us. Al Black was a powerful speaker. Ies Spetter had been in Holland during the war, so he brought that perspective. There was Eleanor Roosevelt. Our discussion group was led by Warren Ramaley, who was a wonderful teacher. David and I were both talkers and it was so lively … we were swinging! It was so magnificent, what we were learning. We learned about the economy. We met lawyers. We visited the Garment District and met with the ILGWU. We went downtown to offices to see how people were working. It was such a great combination of teaching, experiences, talking and lecturing that we didn’t want to go to sleep at night — or go home at the end!

Every teacher took the time to talk with you and made themselves available to you. You knew they had your back. Frances Levenson (who was a founding member of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing) and Bernard Warshavsky were especially supportive to me when I decided to stay in New York after the Encampment, helping me to find work and lodging. From there, things moved very quickly. I worked as a secretary and went to auditions. Then I auditioned for George Balanchine and became a member of the cast of “House of Flowers,” and my career took off.

As I mentioned before, we were expected to use what we learned. When David Rothenberg (who later founded the Fortune Society) asked me to talk with some young boys who were incarcerated in a juvenile home, I was glad to have a chance to give back. I sang and spoke with them about doing things in a better way, encouraging them: “You don’t have to stay in this situation — you can make a change.”

Then Murray Phillips from the EFC asked me to come and do something for other kids through the Police Athletic League (PAL). It was awesome — we sang songs, and I taught acting and dance. That was the start of my working with young people in social groups.

Later, I was offered a lead part in the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre. When I read the part, I did not feel it represented my people well. I told my agent that I would not take the part. In addition, I let CORE and the NAACP know about this script and they obtained an injunction until the script was changed. When I was sued by the theater, I told them that my inside feelings about who I am and my people were never going to be bought — that’s the EFC. I took a stand!

The EFC also provided another direction that has guided my life. In 1955, my 14-year-old cousin Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi by a lynch mob. Having had the EFC experience, I knew that not all white people were monsters because I had been in a situation that was different. No matter what we went through in the ‘60s, having lived with the Encampment, no one has ever been able to move me away from the direction I was a part of and the reality I experienced. I did not receive feelings of hate in my heart. No one could break my spirit because I knew better. I knew what should be done and I knew there were bad people, but they are not all bad.

Why is the EFC important now? EFC is important now because of the state that the world is in now — the world needs a balm. We have to give young people a chance to stop, look and listen. To let them know that what you have in the world before you is up to you. Do not waste your life — you must do something with it. There aren’t enough years for all the things that have to be done, but you can use the time you have. We can restart our engines so we focus on helping others who don’t know the way. If you are breathing and you are not helping others, then you are not really living.

The Encampment Has Changed Me Entirely

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Deanna, Aaron and Akeme at field trip to CCTV in Boston. Photo by Dyanne London, EFC board member

Deanna Marie Mousseau, member of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, was an Encamper in 2015. She participated a second year in 2016 and became an intern in 2017. She is currently in her second year of college.

How has the Encampment influenced your life?

The Encampment has changed me entirely — I realized that I don’t have to give into the pressures to fail that I feel from society. I may have to try harder, but now I know that I have power within myself to create change. The EFC has shown me this and influenced me in my career path. I have been a part of the community for three years and I have been introduced to a huge network of remarkable people. Even outside the program, the Encampment offered me support that has contributed to my success today. The Encampment has opened many doors, allowing me to have more opportunities. I am also blessed with lifelong friendships with a lot of beautiful people.

What did you learn at the Encampment?

What I learned through the Encampment is that we have tools within ourselves that help us achieve our goals. Some of these tools are our voices, our strength in numbers, and the power of knowledge. We looked at how people did this throughout history, learning about what worked in their organizing efforts. We learned that we could practice different types of social justice work by getting involved in communities.

I also learned more about myself, and the direction where I wanted my life to go changed. My ambitions got bigger and I really started to realize what I am capable of. A big thing I learned was how to be a truth seeker. My summers spent with the Encampment were always ones of correcting false history or assumptions, to gain a better understanding of the social sphere I live in today.

Before I came to the Encampment, I was very unaware of my own environment, and I didn’t think about communities outside my own. I have always been open-minded, which is a great perspective to have when participating in the program. It allows you to really grasp the different cultures you get exposed to while with the group. It is such a diverse group, with so many stories to tell. This atmosphere of acceptance you get while at the Encampment, in a sense, proves to the world that we as human beings are capable of thriving under the same roof.

As an intern, I loved watching the youth and seeing the changes they made from their arrival to when they returned home.

When you arrived, what was your first impression of the Encampment?

In my head, I was like, “This is no typical summer camp!” I was expecting cliché campfire songs, beach volleyball, and arts and crafts. Right away, I was thinking, “Thank you mom, for sending me to this summer camp because it was not what I thought it was going to be.” I knew we would focus on national issues and I was expecting a huge learning opportunity, but I didn’t expect to experience as much growth as I did. When I came to the Encampment, I was told the history of it, the purpose, and the agenda. I was very excited because I met other youth I could relate with and the staff made me feel very welcomed.

What topic did you spend the most time on at the Encampment and what did you learn?

My first summer, we spent a big portion focusing on the Civil Rights Movement. We were in the heart of the South and we got an intense experience learning about the movement. We learned about the racial tensions that had deep roots in the south and how the history impacts modern times. We also learned how to organize and what we could do ourselves to create change.

Another big topic was immigration. We had youth who had first-hand experience, and that offered a lot of perspectives to the group. I remember many good discussions and presentations on immigration. We could learn about these things in creative ways that made it fun to be involved. The Encampment is great at teaching youth how to use resources for their own projects. We learned skills to get people engaged and we looked at what people did in the past that helped create the biggest change.

How did the Encampers get along? How did this change over the time you were together?

I think at the beginning, we were all kind of easing into getting to know each other. Once we all realized how much we had in common, and how we could relate on the problems we faced, we were able to connect. One thing I loved is that the Encampment offers such an accepting feeling and we could share bonds that we couldn’t get anywhere else. Suddenly, our race, ethnicity, and gender, etc., did not matter; only who we were and how we wanted to make the world better mattered, so we were all able to function as a community.

How did Encamper self-government work for your Encampment?

The best version of self-government I have seen was the summer of 2017. It was hard to get the group to agree on an absolute form of government, but the Encampers could come up with basic positions to offer the group some boundaries. They made community agreements and voted on people to be elected officials. It seemed to have worked out just fine, and the youth took the positions seriously.

What field trips do you remember?

The most memorable trip I remember taking was during the 2015 Encampment, when we went to Selma, Alabama. We dove into the history of Bloody Sunday and racial inequalities. We got to see some phenomenal museums, including an interactive one where we experienced a slave trade simulation. It was so incredible to experience that because we have been learning about the Civil Rights Movement, and that fieldtrip made what we were studying a reality.

Going to Immigration Court and sitting in on court hearings was another huge insight. The Encampment takes us places where history is learned hands-on, and we can see injustices upfront, so we can decide what actions are needed to improve the situation.

We took trips to Black Lives Matter events, all types of museums, many trips to local businesses that served the community, and places of scenic beauty — a variety of trips that made the group bond stronger and where we also got to see the depth of issues this country faces.

 What community service projects do you remember?

We did things like participate in helping other communities with events. One time, we went to the Choctaw Reservation and helped with their annual powwow. We became part of their community and they became part of our Encampment community. We also did service learning at different locations, getting involved in the local communities.

What were some of your favorite leisure time activities?

I loved to swim during our down time. We would do trips to the beach and check out hiking trails. Often, we all sat around and talked about different debates.

What is your favorite memory or story from the Encampment?

In the summer of 2016, at the beginning of the program, we were all still getting used to each other. We climbed Mt. Monadnock on a rainy day. It turned out to be more strenuous than anticipated and it seemed to never end. As a group, we helped each other, and it brought our group closer. It gave us some good laughs and it was a great way to start off the summer.

Why is the EFC important now?

The Encampment is important because there is a critical need for people to take action. As the world faces difficulties, we are going to need leaders. The EFC brings youth forward who are willing to engage in their communities and are interested in activism and organizing. It is what we all shared in common — our passions for changing the world and leaving it better than we found it. It offers skills and knowledge that will help youth make their mark on society.



2018 Encampment, Raymond, MS: Experiences that grow activism and a vision of a truly democratic world

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Jane Sapp at the 2017 Encampment.

Program director Michael Carter and education director Jane Sapp share their vision for the 2018 Encampment.

What stands out for you in the 2018 curriculum?

Michael: I’m excited that we have a powerful curriculum focused on voting rights and education reform that the Encampers can take back to their home communities. These themes came from conversations with local grassroots organizers in the Southeast, but their importance and intersectionality are universal. We are linking the Encampers with local youth (and adult) organizers so there can be a true exchange that increases understanding of strategies for change that lifts up the spirits.

Jane: One of the objectives is to provide experiences that grow the young people’s activism skills. These include mentoring the Encampers to design and lead a workshop session; field trips to local civil rights museums like the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation (Selma CTNR) where Encampers can learn movement history and see what local activists are doing today; and service learning opportunities with Southern Echo, the ACLU and the Nollie Jenkins Center.

One of my favorite ways to build activism is our trip to Duck Hill, MS, for their July 4 celebration. The young people will not only meet community activists from different generations, but get to share that community’s culture in an authentic setting. They will also help with an environmental clean-up project.

We understand that the Encampers will have a chance to work with Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the mayor of Jackson, MS, and a lifelong community activist who is currently working for education reform.

 Jane: Yes, education reform is a place where young people live — they are in schools directly experiencing the inequalities in the system. At the Encampment, they will learn about a range of experiences and hear from a variety of people working in education reform and its challenges. There’s an opportunity to work with the mayor. Joyce Parker, director of Citizens for a Better Greenville, will bring a deeper understanding of the School to Prison Pipeline. We will meet with girls from the Nollie Jenkins Center who are organizing against corporal punishment, which is still legal and directed mainly toward Black youth. We also will have an evening of dialogue with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians about their educational system.

 Voting reform is a major focus at the 2018 Encampment in this election year.

Jane: Yes — simply put, we want to help young people understand why it’s important to vote. Part of that is understanding the history and struggle for the vote. We will introduce them to current state and local activists who will focus on electoral and legislative politics. They will be involved in voting-related activities, including research, getting the word out and collecting census data. The idea is to help them think of themselves as young citizens, actively engaged and ready to contribute to their communities and country.

Michael: We provide experiences of democracy in practice, and that enables them to envision a truly democratic world where everyone has a voice.

What are you most excited about?

Jane: The young people have the opportunity to interact with other young people who are organizing for social justice. We are supporting the growth of the youth movement. By going into local communities, the Encampers get to see the realities and the complexities of the work for social change. Of course, I’m also excited about the arts workshops, and especially what will come out of the music workshop!

That brings us to the 2018 InterGen(erational) weekend.

Michael: This weekend will be youth-centered, with the Encampers lifting up the knowledge they have brought with them that was strengthened at the Encampment. The Encampers will be facilitating workshops for adults and youth. They can practice the skills they have been cultivating, share what they have learned with some mastery, and engage in challenging conversations across traditional cultural and generational divides.

 Jane: We want to demonstrate what young people are able to bring to the conversation — this moment we’re in right now, where we are seeing young people begin to rise — despite so much that is thrown in their way to discourage them. Now is the time when we need to be there to give them our support and share whatever they feel will be helpful. It’s also an opportunity for us to learn from them about what this movement is and what can sustain it.

The Urgency of Now

Support the newest generation of changemakers at

EFC’s 2018 InterGen Weekend, July 20–22, Raymond, MS.

Find out what this year’s Encampers are passionate about and participate in youth-led intergenerational, cross-cultural and inspiring community activities!

Contact us at or 831-515-6775.

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Michael Carter at the 2017 Encampment.


Rachel Miller (1978 Fieldston) On Her EFC Experience & Why It’s Important Now

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What did you learn at the Encampment?

I learned so much that it’s hard to know where to begin. The most important insight was acknowledging racism and its impact on all Americans. Coming from a small, mostly white town in upstate New York, I knew very few non-white people and had a naïve vision of celebrity-based racial equality, if I ever even thought about it. (I did have a strong sense of difference, though, as a member of the only Jewish family in my entire rural, conservative K–12 school system until I was in high school, when my family moved.) The Encampment introduced me to urban life, and made me stare in the face of racial inequality and question the link between race and poverty. It made me acknowledge the stain I bore (and bear) as a white American and begin to formulate reasonable approaches I could undertake to addressing racism — a lifelong formulation, to be sure.

 What motivated you to go to the Encampment?

I was active in union-side labor activities in my hometown and someone I knew through those activities was familiar with the Encampment. I believe his sister knew about it through a friendship with Bob Factor, a professor of labor studies and an Encampment staffer. My friend gave me a brochure and application. I wanted to be with people my age who shared my interest in progressive politics, especially labor-related.

When you arrived, what was your first impression of the Encampment?

Hot! We slept on cots set up in a chemistry lab at the Fieldston School in Riverdale, without air conditioning (I didn’t have A/C at home either, but it wasn’t as hot). I also remember feeling excited that the people around me, many of whom looked different from me, would likely become my friends. Finally, I remember marveling that kids dressed differently from me. At my high school, there was a strong dress code depending on your social group. As a sort of “hippie” (a few years too young for the actual classification), I wore only certain kinds of jeans, shoes, T-shirts. I found the anything-goes dress code of the Encampment utterly liberating from Day One.

 What topic did you spend the most time on at the Encampment and what did you learn?

I chose the workshop called Work and Society, led by Bob. We worked on the boycott of the JP Stevens textile company, a campaign I’d already been active on at home for several years

We spent many evenings in discussions about poverty and race. I remember two staffers very well in these conversations: Kwame and Alvaro. They forced us to consider — and I mean really consider — why urban slums were full of people of color. It was such powerful consciousness-raising. In retrospect, it may have been a little bit of “aware-ifying” rather than getting us to read and think. Kids often didn’t know how to answer Kwame’s loud questions and he would tell us we would have to stay in the room until we answered him, until we came to some kind of consensus about why people of color were disproportionately poor in the U.S.

How did camper self-government work for your Encampment?

I don’t recall much about this, but I know we Encampers must have resented some of the rigidity or control that the staff exerted because in the last week or two, we organized a kind of mutiny called Operation 6:20. At 6:20 p.m., in the middle of dinner, we stood up and executed an elaborate plan to “take over” the program, treating staff harshly to give them a taste of their own medicine. After an hour or two, I suppose we loosened up and discussed what we were doing. But the whole affair involved extensive planning, leadership roles and more. After they caught on, the staff were proud of us! I still think of us sometimes when the clock says 6:20!

 What field trips do you remember?

I remember a powerful day of farm work in Goshen, NY. A few hours of back-breaking labor were enough to help us all appreciate the heroic work of the impoverished farmworkers who picked our produce. I think we slept on the bus all the way back to the city.

I also recall a trip to the country — I don’t know where, but here the difference between city kids and the rest of us emerged, with mostly good humor. The city kids freaked out about the insects while those of us from rural and suburban areas were struck by the fancy “city clothes” our urban friends brought along for country activities like hiking!

I also remember a field trip that our workshop made to one of the Potemkin auto sales shops. I think the purpose was to see high-end cars when we’d been studying disenfranchised labor. It didn’t mean much to me since I had no idea how much cars should cost.

Our workshop went repeatedly to Bloomingdale’s, where we hung out in the housewares section distributing pamphlets encouraging customers to boycott JP Stevens. We were asked to leave on numerous occasions but figured we’d keep trying.

 What community service projects do you remember?

I remember learning the term “sweat equity” through a day-long community service project at Banana Kelly, a community development corporation in the South Bronx. We helped to clean up a lot strewn with junk. The lot was going to be turned into affordable housing and a community center. I was incredibly inspired and believe that day nurtured a strong interest in community development, which I have pursued in my career.

 How did the Encampers get along? How did this change over the time you were together?

I think we generally got along well, but there were exceptions. One girl, who had been sexually assaulted some years earlier, had a traumatic experience when Encampment classmates tried to throw her (and others) in the stream of a loosened fire hydrant on a hot day. They didn’t understand how frantic her shouts of “NO!” were. That created tension for a while.

I also recall a pretty good-natured tension about what kind of music we would listen to for dancing — the white kids wanted rock, the black kids wanted R&B, the Latino kids wanted salsa. (I don’t remember what the Asian or Native American kids wanted.) We learned from each other.

One girl had a physical disability as well as an accent (she was not a native English speaker) and I recall some discussion about how she felt belittled. In general, while cliques formed, I think we made an effort to resist them — like sitting at tables with different people (not just people who looked different from us, but people we felt we hadn’t gotten to know as well).

We had our age and times in common and that was powerful stuff. Of course, our backgrounds were so different. I recall mostly a healthy exchange of difference — like turning each other onto our respective favorite musics (how did we do that without iPhones?!) and books and favorite classes and college plans. I remember consciously trying not to gravitate toward the people who were most like me. In fact, I may have started off on the wrong foot with a lovely Canadian woman who brought her guitar to play folk music. It felt too close to where I came from and I think I ignored her at first.

 What were some of your favorite leisure-time activities?

We liked to hang out and listen to music. I remember one of our favorite songs was Santa Esmeralda’s “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”! And Le Freak and Last Dance.

 How has the Encampment influenced your life?

I came to the Encampment with an already-developed commitment to social change, but the particular focus — combating racism and promoting tolerance — was strongly influenced by the Encampment. I wrote my college application essay about my experience at the Encampment; was a charter member of a group on campus called the Student Committee on Racial Awareness, which conducted workshops for student groups on racial bias; studied U.S. history with a focus on immigration and diversity; and have had a career dedicated to ending poverty and inequity through initiatives in public health, workforce development, community development, immigrant and refugee resettlement, and child welfare.

 Why is the EFC important now?

The importance of cultivating tolerance and understanding during this most trying time is obvious. Of equal importance is developing leaders from among enlightened young people. That hate, intolerance and untruth can parade as “official” is unacceptable and can only be met with regime change, and that will only happen when current and future generations of leaders come forward to challenge the status quo.