Democracy Camp

Democracy Camp

There are summer camps for just about everything in our country but no Democracy Camps–yet. At a time when many young people are feeling the fragility of our imperfect democracy more strongly than ever before, now is the time to create Next Gen Democracy Camp. Tufts’ CIRCLE has found that 57% of youth surveyed are losing faith in democracy and has noted that despite increased youth voter turnout in 2018 and 2020, doubts and distrust of American democracy may play a role in depressing the youth vote and that working to counter those negative sentiments, especially if we give young people opportunities to shape a democracy that they would trust, could be key to increasing participation even further.

In response, starting the week of June 27, 2022, we will be piloting a weeklong in-person intensive Next Gen Democracy Camp engaging diverse teens, initially from across New York and subsequently from across the United States, in:

  • analyzing the history and current state of our democracy, 
  • investigating ways you can get involved in taking on challenges to it (for ex, around voting rights or shortcomings in access), 
  • formulating Democracy Proposals to tackle the challenges you’ve identified
  • making recommendations to adults about how to work across differences in order to create inclusive civic solutions, and
  • creating action plans to implement with peers over the 2022-23 school year 

Our Guiding Questions

I. How do WE define democracy?

II. What will it take to make democracies more responsive and resilient, and to build a broader community of partners committed to global democratic renewal? How do we best and most equitably operate within an imperfect democracy? 

III. What results must democracy deliver for people to find it viable?

IV. What role have young people played in democracy historically and how is young people’s participation playing out today?

V. How do we build commitment to, and capacity for, democracy-building amongst the rising leaders of GenZ (and beyond)?

VI. What role does media coverage and media literacy play in our relationship with and understanding of democracy? 

VII. How does your identity interact with or inform your participation and/or relationship with/to politics? 

VIII. How do we engage in respectful discourse across differences?
Through exploring these questions, participants will develop and strengthen 21st century civic skills aligned with our civic skill matrix, including critical thinking and research, respectful dialogue across differences, positive collaboration, effective writing and oral communication, and creative problem solving. We aim to build upon this each year, ideally going national in 2023 and 2024 as well as demonstrating a model that could ideally be run by partners in many other contexts. 

We see Next Gen Democracy Camp as an integrative fulcrum for our work, drawing upon and amplifying existing initiatives while ideally creating a scalable model that could be implemented by others across the city and country.

Apply at ASAP and no later than Fri, May 27.