This week Jon Patch chats with Nora Kramer, executive director of YEA Camp. YEA Camp (Youth Empowered Action) was founded on the belief that, from a young age, people are naturally idealistic and compassionate and want to help others. They can see the world for what it could be and instinctively want to take action to make the world a better place. Yet, despite thousands of hours in school, most young people do not learn skills, have role models, or receive encouragement to address some of the biggest problems in our society. Without being instilled with the tools and belief that they can make a difference, people can become resigned or cynical about having the power to impact the world around them. YEA Camp is committed to filling this gap — to ensuring that people who want to make a difference in the world have the knowledge, skills, confidence, and community to do so.
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Nora Kramer has worked as an educator and activist since 2001, teaching high school English, environmental education, at after-school programs, and — of course — working at camps, as well as working on numerous campaigns in many capacities for various social justice issues that she cares about deeply.
Nora’s activism has included grassroots outreach, event planning, developing websites, writing brochures, speaking at conferences, coordinating volunteers, phone banking, and more. Nora successfully coordinated the Bay Area’s signature-gathering efforts for the campaign to pass precedent-setting Proposition 2, an initiative sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States to address inhumane farming practices, and then did it again in Cleveland, coordinating the signature-gathering in northern Ohio for a similar initiative two years later. During the school year, in addition to her work for YEA, Nora is the Youth Outreach Coordinator for Mercy For Animals, which advocates to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote compassionate food choices and policies.
Nora has combined her interest in activism and social change with her passion for working with youth through teaching at after-school programs, running a humane-education organization, mentoring school environmental clubs, working with students to get healthier options in the school lunch program, and teaching 9th and 10th grade English. Nora received her teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and has worked at several camps over the years, as a camp director and senior staff. She has training from the Institute For Humane Education, completed the intensive Basic Camp Director Course through the American Camp Association, and was certified in nonviolent conflict resolution with youth through the Help Increase the Peace program.
Recognizing the passion and power teens have to bring about a more just world, and the opportunity to support them through an intensive and unique summer program, Nora developed the curriculum for YEA and founded the camp in 2009.