You Should Go: Soapbox’s Feminist Summer Programs for Badass Chicks of All Ages

In 2010, I pretended I was dropping out of school.

I had just moved into a house off-campus where I engaged, for the first time, in unsupervised recklessness, recovered from a semester-long “sabbatical” in which I wore readers and oversized sweaters with leggings every day, and was stuck in the middle of a severe caffeine addiction that required I drink coffee from my reusable mug no fewer than five times a day. (In other words: it was very much so the beginning of the rest of my life.)

And instead of going to the first, or second, days of class, I was in New York City at Soapbox Inc.’s Feminist Winter Term.

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Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, co-authors of the world-famous Manifesta, have been working on developing, growing, and sustaining feminist programs since 2007 – when they held the first-ever Feminist Winter Term. They were my hosts when I registered for the program, and we even met in Amy’s apartment. Together, the two women put together an impeccable adventure for us, a group of wily and wide-eyed teenagers exploring New York City for the first time with fresh eyes. And what better guides could we ask for?

At the time, when I registered for FWT in January of 2010, I was convinced that I would spend the rest of my days in feminism. (I still am.) Feminist Winter Term was a confirmation that I was in the right place and on the right path; it was a place where I communed with fellow teenage feminists and daughters of single moms, fellow rabble rousers and fellow bad bitches, and even super important people in the movement, all face-to-face. Now it’s 2013 and the entirety of the Feminist Camps structure has been redone, revamped, rebuilt, and restructured for more participants of all ages and more opportunities to create change. It’s amazing! But was I ever so young?

I would give a lot to be nineteen and rubbing elbows with Shelby Knox over Chinese takeout again, reading over manuscripts at the Feminist Press, traversing Manhattan and its boroughs in search of the right big buildings and feminist landmarks. It was the trip to Manhattan where I  first networked with the future of feminism, when I saw Babeland and Blue Stockings for the time. We went to Bust Magazine HQ, sat in the conference room of the Ms. Foundation for Women with leaders of nonprofit organizations, spoke with educators and administrators in feminist-focused graduate and PhD programs. We got our shit together and vibed with each other, got to know one another and then made plans to take over the world together.

You can have that.

Soapbox Media announced registration for its three Feminist Camp programs last week; they offer programs of varying lengths and programs built specifically for different audiences and clusters of humans. Each camp provides participants with the opportunity to explore New York City, make new friends and connections, and play a part in a movement that will, by the end, completely humble them.

To register for any of the feminist programs Soapbox offers, you’re going to need a pretty penny and all of your personal information – if you do, then do not pass go and report directly to the Soapbox website to register. If you need financial assistance, reach out to the team and see what they can do for you – I inquired with the staff and found out that Soapbox has been offering one full and several partial scholarships each semester based on need and a mini-essay contest.

Here’s a little overview of the three programs offered this round. Registration is wide open!

FEMINIST CAMP: JUNE 2-8, 2013, $1500

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Feminist Camp is a transformative week of feminism in action that can’t be found anywhere else.

Each day is organized by theme—Reproductive Justice, Sexual Power, Feminist Art, Philanthropy, and more—and we always include a Career Day that offers concrete information for entering the work world.

Feminist Camp is open to all who are interested in learning more about transforming feminist theory into practice. It is especially recommended for upperclass undergrads and recently-graduated individuals. We’ve hosted students of all genders, races, religions, nationalities and ages. We’re committed to accessibility and will make appropriate accommodations for anyone interested in the program.

The $1,500 program fee includes housing, breakfasts, most lunches for five days, all programming, and a weekly MetroCard. The fee is $1000 if housing isn’t needed. This fee does NOT include transportation to NYC, dinner, and other entertainment you choose to pursue on your own. We estimate $20 to $50 a day to cover these additional expenses.

I also happen to know, because I’m very privy to important information, that this year Feminist Camp will hopefully include a day on Women and Prison, the always-popular Reproductive Justice Day (tour of an abortion clinic, adoption agency, and home for parenting teens; meeting with the Doula Project and the legal resource National Advocates for Pregnant Women), Philanthropy, Bodies &  Power, and Career Day (which features mini-internships).

FEMINIST INTENSIVE: JUNE 19-21, 2013, $1500

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The Feminist Intensive program was developed to bridge perceived gaps between academia and activism; to introduce faculty to diverse research undertaken outside of the academy and experience practices that have yet to be documented or codified into theory; and to create a larger community of feminist teachers and scholars. The $1,500 program fee includes the program fee, meals, and a Metrocard. This fee does NOT include transportation to and from NYC or other entertainment you choose to pursue on your own.

FEMINIST DAY CAMP: JUNE 24-28, 9AM TO 3PM DAILY, $1000

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At Feminist Day Camp, rising high school juniors and seniors hone their leadership skills, meet inspiring activists, and tackle the real issues that impact their lives. Each day sounds a different theme—from media to mentoring—and participants will leave recharged and ready to positively impact the future.

Soapbox Feminist Camps are week-long feminist intensives. This program costs $1000 for the week and does not include housing.

Another sneak peek: this year Feminist Day Camp, which is a new program, will include workshops with Arts Effect (a feminist all-girl acting troupe) and the spoken word artist Kelly Tsai and media training with Jamia Wilson! (You may remember her from my Can’t A Bad Bitch Use Twitter Anymoar article.)

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If feminism is your life blood, coffee is your source of inner power, and you have any inkling as to how to navigate the New York City Metro Area public transit system, register for one of Soapbox’s Feminist Programs today. I made long-lasting connections through this program and I was barely born! You’ll get the world out of it if you dream it so.

And if you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll get a career out of it, too.

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Carmen is the Feminism and Straddleverse Editor at Autostraddle, meaning she helps expand your mind and your queer girl clique. She's mother to the most adorable dog on Earth and hates paying more than one dollar for a good slice of pizza. At times, she self-identifies as "the baddest bitch." You should follow her on Twitter and Tumblr because it makes her feel good about herself when people do.

Carmen has written 586 articles for us.

18 Comments

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      yeah, i second this. i connected with and blogged for bust for a bit after this program, and also landed an internship at the FP after my one-day internship a year prior. much love to the fwt and all those programs forever.

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        I did my one-day internship at the Feminist Press too. :) Shortly after camp, I landed a job at the Third Wave Foundation and later at the International Women’s Health Coalition. This year I gave a presentation to a group of campers visiting our office! It was lovely to have it come full circle.

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    While a college student (and soon-to-be graduate) myself, it makes me sad that these programs aren’t more open to not-rich folks. It seems weird that there is no space for those who haven’t pursued education past high school, by choice or because of the very real financial burdens of college. It’s also too bad that they don’t offer scholarships or low-income options for any of their camps (from what I could see). Hopefully these are points they choose to address as they move forward, because financial barriers to feminism are a thing. People gotta get paid and all, but I just like to see more intentional altruism in feminism.

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      hey! i hear you on this, especially as someone who actually utilized financial assistance to go to this program (and camped out at home and commuted to further reduce costs). there actually is a scholarship for each program, which i sort of mentioned briefly, and if you wanted to you could totally inquire about it!

      i’m pretty sure the “college v high school” thing is less about enrollment and more about age differences and legal liability. i’m sure a 20-yo could apply for the college or professionals one, but i actually haven’t asked this question.

      i really like that you brought this up because i also like to see supports in place for folks who don’t have a lot and live in an “extenuating circumstance.” i’m one of those folks. just wanted to make sure i could clear that up, but thanks for commenting <3

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      I had followed Feminist Camp for years and couldn’t do it because I was flat broke. I actually got to attend last year because I got a full scholarship to go! So they are available. I totally am on the same page as you in regards to feminist events being more accessible to folks of all socioeconomic statuses.

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      When I expressed interest in the program a couple years ago, Amy Richards responded to me being like “WOW TOO EXPENSIVE can’t go” with an invite to attend for free. So I hear you completely on the accessibility of feminist programs like this, but Amy & Jen both have altruistic intentions (while still needing to pay the bills). When you consider the speaking fees that the people involved usually get paid, it’s actually quite a good value. And you couldn’t be involved with a more intentional and experienced group of feminist organizations and advocates. I was a recent unemployed college grad and Soapbox welcomed me with open arms and I still stay in close contact with Amy and Jen. They both are extremely supportive and helpful, and this program truly changed my life! The program is also open to people of any gender (thumbs down to the “badass chicks” part of this post’s title), any experience level, and any age. But you’re right in that college students will likely have the most programmatic support for attending (often through their program of study, etc.)

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    These sound amazing. I read “Manifesta” in my Feminist Theory class in college, and Amy Williams (was Richards then) and Jennifer Baumgardner spoke at my school. (This was in 2002, not long after the book had come out.) Jennifer was working on her book about bisexuality at the time, and asked those of us who went up to speak to her afterwards if we’d be willing to answer some questions over e-mail about sexuality. I was fairly certain I identified as lesbian by then but I was a bit in love with Jennifer so I volunteered anyway. ;) I did the questionnaire, so maybe something about me is in that book. (That is my 15 seconds of feminist fame.)

    TL;DR – if the camp for high schoolers is still around in 12 years, I’ll definitely send my daughter. :)

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    Damnit! First, I thought it was way too expensive even for someone who already lives in NYC. Then I realized it would be an awesome experience and I should apply for financial aid or try to work out some sort of monthly payment thing. BUT THEN, I realized that the Feminist Camp is being held the same time I’m going to Montreal so boooooo!

    And I totally agree that it’s WAY expensive. Too bad they don’t have multiple weekend long camps for half the price…

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    I am so glad autostraddle posts about these sorts of great opportunities. I’m all signed up. I will definitely be applying for financial aid though, and already emailed my program heads to see if they could help in some way.

    I’m also glad that this camp open to people in Canada. If anyone is going from the Toronto area, give me a shout! :)

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    I’m very glad that these programs exist. I live in Southern California, and we need some of these down here, too. Also, I’m in high school and $1000 for a week-long day camp without housing? There aren’t many ways that young feminists can make this kind of money on their own, and these days a teen like myself from a working class can’t get this kind of money from any source. It’s a shame these restrictions are being imposed on young women (and men!)who could really benefit from being in an environment like this one. I’m absolutely positive there are young feminists like myself in NYC who are as disappointed as I am that they can’t be part of an amazing enriching program like this one.

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        There are ways for a HANDFUL of people to go for a free or reduced price. But how many hundreds of applications will they have gone through to pick those few names?

        We all understand that there are costs and fees associated with holding kickass seminars like this. But for some of us it gets really tiring to CONSTANTLY have to apply for financial aid in the hopes of being able to be involved in endeavors such as this.

        As a child I always wanted to go to science camp or space camp or even the plain old YMCA camp that everyone went to but it was always out of my parent’s price range. Applying to colleges was no different. And now that I have a few years of college education with no degree and my own business that I love dearly (www.birthsbytatiana.com), surprise surprise, I STILL can’t afford to attend even though I already live in NYC.

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          I totally understand your frustration. I, too, lack a college degree due to financial restraints. I have been a low-income student forever struggling to sort of get into “mainstream” feminism. It is frustrating to know how privileged folks more easily access such great resources.

          The sad part is I knew some programs that could not even offer any options for a HANDFUL of folks. They only had partial scholarships and even then I couldn’t afford them because of my barely existent income. That place is now closed.

          I think there are a lot of things at play where we need to recognize that feminists need to be paid for their time, too. The folks behind at FBC are very aware of this barrier and are doing work to making it increasingly accessible. In the beginning they didn’t even have nominations for people to go for free. I truly believe as feminist programs are taken more seriously and are more valued more folks will be willing to support it and more people will be able to go at a more accessible rate.

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