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Social Justice Boot Camp 2012 came to a close this August 16, 2012. After six intense weeks, 40 young people and eleven staff met for one last time to reflect on what seemed to be a powerful experience for everyone involved. 

"I really opened up while I was here. I never used to speak up for myself," said one young woman who came to Project Reach for the first time at the beginning of July. "I learned what hypersexualization was and why that's important," said another young woman. "I used to always be alone," said another young man. "Now I'm never alone. You guys are all my family." Many program participants expressed the importance of skills and concepts they had learned while at Project Reach and how much they were going to miss one another.

The Social Justice Boot Camp is a 6 week long intensive for young people committed to challenging discrimination and oppression. Participants had the opportunity to explore social issues with other young people as while developing art and media skills; allowing them to express new and important perspectives. Through group trainings, games, discussion groups, field trips, retreats, movie screenings, art, video, and creative writing workshops, young people are equipped with the analysis to tackle issues such as homophobia, racism, sexism, classism, and more. 

Among other events, this year's Boot Camp included a trip to the Museum of Women's Resistance for an exhibition on hypersexualization, a lively viewing and discussion of the film Walkout, a drag show which more than half of the participants took part in, and of course a weeklong trip to the Catskills where young people prepared meals together, confronted community problems, and offered lingering pains to a bonfire. New this year was a variety of cultural workshops that included video production, poetry, art & design, and a critical analysis study group. Through these workshops, participants were able to turn out lively poetry performances, a video short on human trafficking, and a series of awesome political buttons; all of which were used to share what had been gained this summer with the community at large. 

As this summer was seen as a success by everyone involved, Project Reach plans to expand programming for the fall to include similar projects. And staff and participants alike are excited to envision what next summer's Social Justice Boot Camp will look like! 

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