National Right to Life
Affiliates Host Teen Training Camps
By Becky Miller
"Mom, I want to go back to
camp!" my three-year-old daughter, Katherine, keeps saying out
of the blue, ever since we left Wisconsin Teens 4 Life Camp in
July. One of the youngest "honorary campers" ever, Katherine
clearly enjoyed camp as much as the 28 teens who attended.
Blending fun and entertainment with sobering education, pro-life
camps have a powerful shaping impact on up-and-coming pro-life
leaders--even the very youngest ones.
Wisconsin is only one of
the state affiliates that run pro-life camps or training
sessions for teens. If your organization is looking to build a
youth education program that includes a camp or retreat,
National Right to Life is working on rolling out a camp program
to help you get started in your state. Here are some ideas to
get the gears turning in your head as you dream up what youth
education could look like in your area.
Share Information and
Learn from Each Other
Texas Right to Life's
college Generation Now scholars helped facilitate the
high school Camp Reveal.
Learn from the state
organizations that are already running camps. Each of the camp
organizers in this article would love to talk with you, share
their advice, and encourage you in beginning your own youth
Wisconsin Right to Life
has been running Camp Esther and Camp Nehemiah twice each
summer, once in the northern part of the state and once in the
south, for seven years. Camp Esther teaches teens all the basics
of the life issues. Camp Nehemiah offers more advanced courses
on everything from international abortion laws and eugenics to
assisted suicide and lobbying techniques. WRTL has developed
fantastic games (like a living Clue mystery game with suspects
like Nancy Pelosi and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a Human Race
adventure game that gets campers running) and excellent
education sessions. Get more information at
www.wisconsinteens4life.org or e-mail Joleigh Little at
Louisiana Right to Life
Federation members hosted Camp Joshua twice this April. They've
been doing camp for three years, and when their attendance
jumped from 35 the first year to 90 the second, they decided to
hold two different camps. You can see a great video about their
www.prolifelouisiana.org/youth/camp-joshua.html. They also
just held a week-long Joshua Leadership Institute for 20 older
teens with a more intensive practicum focus than their shorter
camps. Contact Ben Clapper at (504) 835-6520 or Kacie Hampton at
for more information.
Pro-lifers in New York
have been running three-day Camp Esther in August for two years.
They incorporate traditional summer camp activities--like water
balloon fights--into their pro-life training. To learn more
about New York State Right to Life's camp, contact Lori Kehoe at
Make a Plan That Works
for Your State
My state of Rhode Island
is the smallest state--you can drive across it in 45 minutes.
We've used the closeness to our advantage by hosting our second
Summer Academy in our Providence state headquarters up the
street from the Rhode Island State House. Students from all over
the state (and a few from neighboring Massachusetts) attended
our Wednesday afternoon sessions for eight weeks this summer.
Stellar speakers come in each week for one-hour lectures on the
life issues, which we follow up with one-hour workshops and
practicums, helping the students cement their learning. If your
state or local chapter would be interested in developing a
similar academy, please e-mail me at
Camp doesn't have to run
in the summer. Oregon Right to Life holds its retreat over
spring break. This year, it held its four-day Camp Joshua in
March. In addition to education sessions and games, campers take
field trips to the ORTL office, the capitol building, and women
helping centers. For more information on Camp Joshua, go to
e-mail Amy at email@example.com.
Just Go for It
pro-lifers learned how to defend the
vulnerable at Texas Right to Life's Camp Reveal.
Make a plan and then jump
in! Texas held its first-ever four-day Camp REveAL this July and
had 30 students. The campers broke into four clubs throughout
the event to develop their leadership and organizational skills
and to practice forming pro-life clubs back home. Learn more
from Melissa Pici at
Educate and Inspire the
Balance educating the
students with inspiring them. Help them learn about the life
issues, remembering to focus on euthanasia, abortion,
and stem cell research, and bring in the global perspective.
Then inspire them with a passion to do something with the
information they're learning. Encourage them to stay involved
with your state organization and start pro-life groups in their
schools, churches, and communities.
Mentor the Camp Staff
Joleigh Little from
Wisconsin RTL and I were talking about youth education strategy,
and she pointed out that as much as she focuses on training the
young teens at camps, she spends even more time and energy
mentoring the camp team that helps run the event. Over the
years, she has noticed campers with the most leadership
potential and has gradually given them more and more
responsibility. I was blown away by the caliber of high school
and college age camp team members who taught many of the camp
sessions with great knowledge and skill.
Texas RTL takes a similar
approach--its college Generation Now scholars help facilitate
Focus on Relationships
Knowledge is power, but
relationships are dynamite. Build ongoing relationships with the
young people in your state through participating in the National
Right to Life oratory contest and attending the National Teens 4
Life Convention, holding camps, and involving teens in your
state conventions and chapter activities.
went to Camp Esther and Camp Nehemiah as a guest speaker, but I
left as a part of the camp team. Building and deepening
friendships with some of the brightest and most energetic young
pro-life leaders made that week the best I've had all year.
Campers and camp team members alike bonded quickly over our
shared passion for defending the weak and vulnerable. I've
enjoyed the social networking aftermath--Facebook is buzzing
with campers friending each other, posting camp pictures,
reminiscing, and making plans for seeing each other soon.
Attend the National
Teens 4 Life Summit in January
"I want to go back to
camp, Mom!" my daughter says again. I sigh. "Me too, honey. Me
too." Next summer is too long to wait to see our camp friends
We are already making
plans to be a part of the National Teens 4 Life Summit, January
21-23. I hope you'll join us in Washington, D.C., the weekend of
the March for Life, for the NTL Summit. And I hope you'll touch
base with the excellent state coordinators mentioned in these
articles and begin planning teen camps in your area.
Becky Miller is the
education coordinator for Rhode Island Right to Life. She blogs
about pro-life issues at