The Encampment is poised to become a force for change in a whole new way. We learned in 2013 that there is a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience in all the generations that have attended and supported the Encampment over the past 60-plus years. It was really amazing to watch how much knowledge there is—and how much fun the alums from different years had with one another! With the advantages of current technology and social media, communication is facilitated easily across different regions and nations. We have a wonderful opportunity to mobilize as an inter-generational national and international community of support, inspiration, and dialogue. –Margot Gibney, 71 MT
The Encampment is in the unique position of being a start-up with a 67-year history. Alums have attended Encampments from 1946 through 2013 and range in age from teens to 80+ years old. We have a unique opportunity to learn from each other and share our perspectives on social justice, democracy, and community action. The organizers of the 2013 Encampment decided to begin developing an inter-generational component to our program. The pilot for this effort was the 2013 Alumni Day program, which took place on July 13 at the Encampment.
Alumni Day drew 26 alums from the 1940-1990s to Richmond VA. Alums were invited to experience the 2013 Encampment, meet the Encampers, and help build for the future.
Lunchtime featured spirited cross-generational dialogues as 2013 Encampers and several decades’ worth of alums got to know each other and shared their interests and insights. At each table, Encampers and alums talked with each other, jotted down notes and doodles, and answered questions such as:
- “Where are you from? What’s something you really like about where you’re from?”
- “Tell us about a memorable or favorite Encampment speaker or field trip.”
- “What’s some advice or a request you have for the older—or younger—generation?”
- “What work do you do, or what work do you want to do? What do you find compelling about this work?”
Here’s a sampling of the notes that conversational groups left on their tables:
- What would you recommend for Encampments in the 21st Century? 4-6 weeks, more people, more field trips.
- What is respect? What is community?
- Advice for younger generation: Keep a record of what you do. You don’t know ahead of time where it will lead or which part you might value later. REFLECT.
- Advice for older generation: Need to open up your minds.
After lunch, alums gathered to learn more about the Encampment’s future plans and ways they can help move the organization forward. First, the group split up by “Encampment decade” and talked about what they remembered from their Encampment experiences. The goal was to see what themes emerged as important, looking back over the years. Some of the themes included:
- Personal stories, so I know you better and you know me better
- Citizenship = Participation; participate, fight for, make a better world
- The Encampment = ½ talk, ½ work
- The Encampment IS the experience; it’s not theoretical.
- Intensive multicultural experience; bonds that were forged
- Understanding of issues on a personal level
- Dialogue necessary – too often neglected
- Reach out and make a difference in our communities.
Next, alums regrouped based on where they currently live (East coast, West coast, South, Midwest). These groups took inspiration from their remembrances of the Encampment and brainstormed ways that they could volunteer to help grow a sustainable Encampment organization. Out of this gathering came the impetus for holding the 2014 Encampment in Chicago!
During the 2013 Encampment, the young people worked in groups to discuss and investigate issues of importance to them. They developed presentations to share with the alums and members of the local community. On Saturday night, the alums and community members assembled for this spectacular program. The 2013 Encampers gave their presentations, using creative arts—music, multimedia, dance, poetry, spoken word, etc.—to present the issues. Presentations included:
- The Potawatomi & Lunaape Languages
- The Woman Experience
- Mental Illness in Adolescents
- Spending and Funding in Education
- Native American Teen Suicide
- Looking: A group song composed and performed by Encampers with Jane Sapp (video)
The audience was wowed by the impact of these presentations. Everyone left with a feeling of renewed commitment and enthusiasm.
“I went to Richmond to help celebrate the revival of the EFC. Being at the alumni weekend was for me a confirmation of the value and importance of this program for young people learning to live ethical lives in today’s environment. It was gratifying to participate in the learning, dialogue and mutual support that occurred . I was especially inspired by the talent and accomplishment of the encampers who performed and presented. I cherish the spirit of solidarity among the diverse, inter-generational community, EFC summer 2013.” –Jo Disparti, Alumni parent
The Inter-Generational Program will be part of the 2014 Encampment in Chicago, IL. Planning is underway for an event that will bring together alums from the 20th and 21st centuries, the 2014 Encampers, and staff. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved.