As a change from precedent, the social justice and leadership program Camp Everytown will host a second session for Palo Alto High School students in March, according to Dean of Students Craig Tuana.
This second session will be held March 12-15 for around 30 Paly students alongside an equal number of Independence High School students from San Jose. The Camp Everytown organizers from Paly are familiar with Independence, as the two schools have gained close ties from sharing their 2012 Everytown sessions with each other, according to Paly Camp Everytown alum senior Josefin Kenrick.
For this March session, participants would miss two days of school, compared to the October 2013 session where delegates missed only one day because of an extra holiday that fell on the weekend of camp. According to Paly Camp Everytown organizer and Living Skills teacher Letitia Burton, the plan is to arrive the evening of Wednesday, March 12, miss school March 13 and 14, and get back on afternoon of March 15. Organizers wanted to end camp on Saturday so students would still have all of Sunday to finish their homework or other projects, according to Burton.
While both schools originally intended to go in January, planning complications arose on both sides so that eventually the two schools decided to go together in March, Burton said.
The program was confirmed before Winter Break by Paly Principal Kim Diorio and was officially made possible when Tuana confirmed that the school would financially be able to find the means to support a second trip in one year, according to Burton.
“We’re going to have a little school funds, though I’m not sure how much yet; it kind of depends on a number of factors,” Tuana said. “We have a few scholarships from Silicon Valley FACES [the non-profit that runs Camp Everytown] … [and] scholarships that could provide scholarships not from our general funds.”
Although the camp in March is considered an “extra” session for the year, Burton encourages Camp Everytown alumni to refrain from applying to camp for a second round.
“We would like to see as many new faces as possible,” Burton said. “Since we’re sharing the camp, we can’t take as many people.”
When Paly went to camp in November 2013, more than 50 Paly students were able to attend. However, because Paly will share the space with Independence High School, there will only be space for 25-30 Paly students.
“The chances of seniors going are small especially if we have so many people who want to go that we have to start being selective about who we take,” Burton said.
While Burton acknowledges the argument that the skills gained in Camp Everytown are life skills, she hopes that Camp Everytown delegates come back from camp with the inspiration to make positive changes in their school. Seniors simply have less time at their school left to follow through with action plans, she said.
One teacher who plans on attending is Eric Bloom, currently serving as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). As TOSA, Bloom has been kept in the loop on a few of the Everytown details, even before the March session was confirmed.
“I know they wanted to do another session because since it happened so early in the year, a bunch of people didn’t know what it was until after it happened,” Bloom said. “And then they say to themselves, ‘Oh, I would be interested in that.'”
Because Camp Everytown is self-described as a leadership training program, Burton strongly encourages that students who have strong convictions about social issues apply to camp.
“I think anyone who has a passion for social justice would make a great [Camp] Everytown delegate,” Burton said. “Anyone who is really interested in creating a more just society [would be a good fit]. It may not be a person who always speaks up but someone who has some really strong convictions that would learn how to speak up from going to camp.”
The goal of the camp is to empower participants to create communities of empathy, respect and inclusion by reducing stereotypes, according to FACES’s website. Potential delegates go through a process of self-nomination or receive a nomination from a teacher. Burton encourages those who are interested in attending the camp to pick up an application from her classroom, P-11, and submit it to her as soon as possible.