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Camp Anytown a success

Forty-eight students from across 19 Oklahoma high schools joined together at Camp Anytown 2014, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. This week-long leadership training for incoming sophomores, juniors and seniors, enhances self-esteem and good citizenship while promoting respect and understanding for everyone.

Students explored topics regarding privilege, discrimination, race and culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic disparities, gender and gender roles, anti-bullying and immigration. Immigration was a stand-out topic to this year’s attendees.

Allison Childress, an incoming junior at East Central High School in Tulsa, attended this June’s camp session, and was impressed with the transformation of campers from day one to the last day.

“The issue of immigration is so important nationwide, especially in the southern areas like Oklahoma and Texas,” Allison said. “No human can be illegal. They can be undocumented in our country, but they aren’t illegal. By learning various facts at camp about immigration, we can further awareness and dismantle these standards of oppression that take hold and control our society.”

Through a presentation by a panel of immigrants, campers realized the struggles of people new to the United States. The four presenting panelists are members of Dream Act Oklahoma, a group of undocumented students and allies working for immigration reform in our state.

“Campers heard first-hand accounts of the struggles that immigrant adults and students face when coming to our country,” said Moises Echeverria, program coordinator at OCCJ. “Many of our students had never stopped to think about what it’s like to be an immigrant and the hurdles that must be overcome, which is why I believe the topic stood out to this year’s group. Our panelists’ testimonies provided information that created deeper awareness for the campers.”

During the workshop Camp Anytown participants viewed photos of immigrants to the U.S. throughout history, and read quotes and opinions regarding immigration from U.S. citizens of past generations. The students learned that the discriminatory statements of today mirror statements of centuries ago.

“The students saw hard evidence that discrimination against immigrants is decades old,” Moises said. “The immigrants of past generations successfully assimilated into U.S. society and contributed to the culture and economy and have helped make this country great. The students got a glimpse of how they can make our country better through welcoming various cultures into the U.S. and sharing this message to others.”

Camp Anytown takes place each summer. For information on the 2015 camp applications, watch for information on our website, social media pages or in next spring’s newsletters.

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