‘Justice Camp’ brings service learning to tweens

Justice Camp participants at the 2012 UUA General Assembly (©Nancy Pierce)
Justice Camp participants at the 2012 UUA General Assembly (©Nancy Pierce)

Justice Camp participants at the 2012 UUA General Assembly. (©Nancy Pierce)

Justice GA has not been business as usual for the tween set. Ten- to 14-year-olds in Phoenix have been attending “Justice Camp,” an all-day discussion- and activity-packed program exploring Phoenix museums and social justice themes.

The camp is the brainchild of Susan Leung, a teacher and member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. “One of my passions is service learning,” said Leung, who is pursuing her Masters in curriculum development online at Purdue University. During the five-day, Wednesday-to-Sunday camp, the children learn about social justice topics and then go out into the community and experience them. On Friday morning, the 28 “campers” and four adult “counselors” discussed the Doctrine of Discovery. Then they traveled to the Heard Museum to learn more about indigenous peoples.

Friday afternoon, they discussed hunger, and they did a work project at the Mesa Cannery, an organization that packages food for local food pantries. They scooped pinto beans into 1,670 individual bags, twisted, labelled, and sealed them tightly. Kathleen Waldron was an adult volunteer on the food packaging field trip. She is a member of the UU Congregation of Phoenix, where she teaches in the Our Whole Lives program.

The five days were divided into 10 sessions, each exploring a social justice topic, including transportation, the environment, immigration, the Dream Act, and community building. A highlight was a work project at a community garden in South Phoenix, an economically impoverished neighborhood. The children learned that about a quarter of nearby residents didn’t have cars and could not easily reach stores that sold fresh produce. But they could get fruits and vegetables from the community garden. The children also “weeded and got dirty,” Leung said.

On Sunday, the camp will conclude with a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum as part of the unit on community building. Nothing builds community like music, Leung said.

More details and photos of the camp are on the Justice Camp blog.

An abridged version of this article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of UU World (“Justice Camp teaches service learning,” page 41).

One Comment on “‘Justice Camp’ brings service learning to tweens

  1. My child LOVED this! I so hope that we can do this for our children at future GAs.