PJ Media’s Jeff Reynolds was sorting through his emails when he came across a digital flier from his child’s school district advertising a new summer camp “opportunity” for grade school children. “Social Justice Summer Camp” will teach your child how to be an effective social activist.
The photograph on the flyer shows a girl with her fist in the air and a boy next to her wearing what sure looks a lot like an Antifa mask, complete with a star. The children almost look like they’ve stepped out of a youth jihadist training camp. Reynolds comments that “teaching incoming 4th through 8th graders how to riot, become members of antifa, and join a communist revolution seems a bit much—even for Portland, Oregon.” I agree.
Our goal is to provide a free, safe and encouraging space for youth to learn, express themselves, and engage critically with the issues they encounter individuals and as a group. We strive to help them cultivate the necessary tools to be active members of our communities through experiences of collective decision-making and democratic education. At camp, youth of all ages play a leadership role alongside adult counselors and make collective decisions about the activities and format of the day. Each day opening and closing assemblies provide a space for youth and counselors to democratically plan activities for the day, resolve conflicts, and build interpersonal leadership skills.
Include a combination of community-building activities, discussions on social justice topics, interactive workshops, movies, arts, games, and free time. Workshops and discussions are often held in collaboration with local activists and community organizations. In the past two summers, we have worked with the Burgerville Workers Union, Critical Resistance PDX, the Transformative Lenses Collective, and DUG (Deep Underground)!
In our work we strive to be a resource for both the campers, their families, and the broader community. With funding from the , an online fundraising campaign, and in-kind donations of space, supplies, and services we were able to offer two hot meals a day, school supplies, and a back-to-school haircut for youth last summer. In addition to this we hope that with the skills, ideas and support found at Budding Roses, each camper is empowered to make a lasting positive change in their community.
Budding Roses was selected for a 2018 Spirit of Portland Award, as Nonprofit Initiative of the Year. View our acceptance speech and statement here.
The camp is free because Budding Roses is funded by the Black Rose Anarchist Federation, a socialist group. It’s a small price for Black Rose to pay because they are creating a pool of young socialists from which they can recruit when the children grow a little older.
The “About Us” section of their website reads as follows:
Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra (BRRN) is a political organization with locals in over a dozen cities sharing a common set of politics and creating a shared strategic vision of how to build “popular power” in workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and all sectors of society towards the goal of libertarian socialism. Our organizing work is centered on building mass movements such as tenant unions, neighborhood assemblies, workplace campaigns, student unions, prisoner organizing, and in defense of communities resisting criminalization and deportations.
If you are interested in learning more about our politics we recommend you start with our core organizational documents: our Mission Statement, Role of the Revolutionary Organization and Points of Unity.
Just think how formidable these children will be by the time they reach high school.
The very idea of a camp whose mission is to teach grade school children the ways of socialism is disturbing to me. As it should be to any freedom loving American.