Today, I’m Brave, the nonprofit founded by David & Goliath founder David Angelo, is bringing back its kid-focused Brave Camp for the second year—and this time, there's a big surprise for its beneficiaries.
David & Goliath brings back summer camp for underserved youth
Angelo launched the program last year in Portola, California, to give underserved teen-aged Black, Indigenous and people of color a free camp experience designed to build their self-esteem and give them tools to tackle life challenges, such as bullying and peer pressure. The $1,500 per camper cost was covered by ad agencies, production partners, foundations and individual donors, allowing 100 teens to attend.
As it heads into its sophomore year, this time on the East Coast, those who attend will get a huge bonus—a free pass to the camp for the next four years.
This year's program will host 50 middle schoolers from New York City's Harlem neighborhood on Aug. 21-26 in the Adirondack Mountains in Middle Grove, New York, in partnership with Camp Stomping Ground. There, leaders will ask campers to write down their definition of bravery on biodegradable paper. Their responses will be buried in a hole with a young tree, called "The Brave Tree." On the last day of camp, the kids will be asked to write a letter to themselves listing the five things that they want to accomplish during the next year.
Afterward, Angelo will announce the surprise: The campers will return for the next four years. They will be able to see the growth of the trees each time they return. "If we leave an impact on these kids, they’re going to be so excited to come back the next year," he said.
Last year's program, held at California's Grizzly Creek Ranch, is the subject of a documentary called “Brave Camp,” co-directed by industry veteran Peter Nicholson and filmmaker Juan Pablo Digenio. The film aims to generate excitement for this year's program and raise industry donations to help sustain it going forward. This year's program will be captured in a documentary as well.
TIB is still soliciting donations as well as camping goods including sleeping bags and water bottles. Last year, agencies including Alma, Anomaly, BBDO, TBWA, Vayner and R/GA were among the donors.
The success of last year's camp inspired the program's team to build out the program in year two. "How can we turn this up a notch and make it even more immersive?” said Angelo. That led to taking the idea across the country to New York. There will also be a new curriculum—based on learnings from last year by Oxford University and University College London alumni, Shawn McQueen and Tessa Davis—and other unique activities.
Events planned throughout the week will feature guests and teachers including Michael Carter, a health and fitness coach who will be leading daily mediations; reggae, hip-hop and R&B artists RSNY, who will inspire bravery and a sense of community through live musical performances and workshops; and Larissa May, founder of #HalfTheStory, who will help campers explore their higher selves and inner truths through dream boards and other art projects.
The goal is to continue the four-year cycle for all participants and expand the camp in other states, Angelo said.
“It was a pretty awesome experience, to say the least,” Angelo said regarding last year's Brave Camp. “You can see in the documentary and feel what they and we experienced. But there's nothing like being there in person and feeling the energy of these kids and the instructors because they’re just vibing off each other throughout the entire week.”