At Feminist Camp, there's no bug juice, no panty raids, and no singing around a campfire, but that doesn't mean it's not an experience you'll remember forever. Soapbox, Inc., the speakers' bureau and training organization founded by activists and Manifesta authors Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, hosts two camps per year, and registration is currently open for the Winter 2013 session (previously known as Feminist Winter Term). The weeklong camp immerses attendees in feminist advocacy, policy, art, and more, spending each day meeting with organizations like Third Wave Foundation and Sistas on the Rise, as well as individuals who have made feminism integral to their careers.
Former Camper NC Eakin, who attended in Winter 2010 and now works at a feminist nonprofit in New York City and blogs at Genderqueer Fashionista, has a rundown of what made the experience so worthwhile.
Take every summer-camp cliché you know—making fast friends that you feel forever connected to, having life-changing and rewarding experiences, sleeping too little, crying at the end—and add feminist organizing, a whirlwind introduction to social- justice nonprofits, readings and movie screenings, and meeting upcoming and established movement names.
Sound good? I could list all the ways that Soapbox's Feminist Camp has helped me, but as one of only a few self-identified feminists at my large public southern University, the most profound was how the camp opened doors to opportunity in New York City. Feminist Camp came to me at just the right moment to assure me the challenges I faced as a feminist in Virginia, with only a tiny community supporting me, were not unique.
Getting around New York City, as well as the numerous organizational visits and opportunities to meet boldfaced feminists, left me both exhausted and inspired at the finale of the week. I might point to those same boldfaced feminists as the selling point for the Feminist Camp experience, but the best part of the experience was the investment I felt from Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, along with the Soapbox staff. It's obvious how much thought, care, and hard work they put into the program: grouping campers with similar interests together so they have time to connect as you move around through various parts of the program, placing campers as best they can at relevant day-long internships (more or less extended organizational introductions with some hands-on experience), and leaving space for conversation and reflection so the vastness of the experience doesn't overwhelm non-cosmopolitan campers.
When asked to describe how I ended up moving to New York from rural Southwestern Virginia, I always cite Soapbox—and my close friend who let me live on her couch. If you want to explore feminism in New York, Soapbox Feminist Camp is the way to do it.