In this world of Facebook activism and online petitions, we think that there is a vital place for face-to-face meetings, for conversations around campfires, for chatting while doing humdrum but essential chores together, for games and songs as well as analysis and facts. Face-to-face community, we believe, is an essential part of the glue that holds strong movements together.
That’s why we created Peace News Summer Camp in 2009 as an opportunity for grassroots activists to come together and recharge our batteries while sharing experiences, ideas and strategies – in a family-friendly, renewably-powered environment.
This year, there are things that are the same as usual, including the beautiful location, Crabapple Community near Shrewsbury, where we’ve been twice before. Robb Johnson, the brilliant radical folk singer-songwriter, is coming again – his gig was a highlight of last year’s camp. We also have glorious RiffRaff poet Dennis Gould, who’s read at Camp before.
There will be the same participatory spirit of sharing the tasks that keep the camp going, joining the work rotas that suit us. As usual, we’ll be bringing together people from different political perspectives and different movements in an atmosphere of mutual respect. We’ll be re-creating the openhearted friendliness that binds the camp together and sets it apart from other radical gatherings.
Some things we’ll be doing a bit differently.
One part of Summer Camp has always been about training and skill-sharing. We’re changing the approach used in some of the training, and more of it (most of it) is being done by PN staff this year.
Over the last few years, Peace News has been exposed to the power of top-notch activist training, starting with the George Lakey training in Manchester that we organised (and his sessions at Summer Camp) in July 2012. Two of us also went to the Training for Change workshops in Margate in January 2013, and Mil went to the Super-T in Philadelphia last year. Since then, we’ve run various workshops and meetings together trying out ‘direct education’.
Three of us will be applying some of what we’ve learned at a number of sessions at this camp, especially during the whole-day, whole-camp ‘Climate Not Trident’ workshop. One lovely part of the preparation for this camp has been receiving Skype coaching from Erika Thorne of Training for Change, helping us to think through the design for the Saturday sessions. Direct education is about learning how to support a group in harvesting its own wisdom and strength.
Apart from entertainment and training, we will have: singing, workshops and discussions, delicious vegan food cooked by Veggies, films, fun and DIY entertainment, a bar, a campfire, and activities and facilities for children.
The camp costs £20–£100 (depending on income) for over-14s. You can pay on the door.
Food (three meals a day and drinks) costs £6–£12 a day for over-14s, depending on income. (Food for under-14s is cooked and served in the Children’s Space – the cost is negotiated with parents.) This year, we are only selling food tickets at the camp itself. (You can buy tickets for the whole camp or for individual meals, or you can self-cater.)
What past Campers have said about Summer Camp
- ‘This was a wonderful holiday for me and a chance to really be myself and to work out what things are valuable in my own life’
- ‘Peace News walks the talk. Thoroughly enjoyed it’
- ‘Valuable information, possibly changed my life on so many levels, can’t wait till next year’
- ‘A chance to take risks in a “safe” environment’
- ‘Very open and participatory’
- ‘I’ve put my fears in a box and thrown them away!’
- ‘Quiet, calm, respectful, trusting’
- ‘People were very friendly and helpful to a new person’
- ‘I arrived feeling jaded, but went home feeling inspired.’
- ‘Camp well organised without too many rules – just essentials”.
- ‘Thank you for organising and creating a lovely village.’
- ‘Children free to mill around / join in / made welcome.’
- ‘Vital for the movement to get together and develop ideas – the PN team is awesome.’
- ‘What a wonderful motley crew! One of the most warm & welcoming activist gatherings I’ve attended. I loved the theme and especially workshop on diversity, oppression etc.’