Registration still open for activist ‘bootcamp’ that makes students relentless pro-life leaders
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Registration is still open for a pro-life bootcamp that teaches high school and college students the ins and outs of activism, connects them with national pro-life leaders, and emphasizes spiritual formation.
“This is the best and most effective pro-life activist leadership experience,” Father Stephen Imbarrato, the camp’s spiritual director, told LifeSiteNews. “We teach these kids not just to be activists, but to be activist leaders. So we will do a variety of events over the 10 days, but the first thing that we do is we give them two to three days of classroom orientation.”
The campers learn pro-life apologetics, public relations tips, the history of the pro-life movement, “how to interact with people who don’t agree with us,” how to lead an activist event, and how to interact with police and media. Then, the campers lead activist events, with pro-life leaders merely supervising from the sidelines.
“When the police show up, they see me in the collar and they come right to me,” Imbarrato explained. “And what great joy I get” from telling them one of the campers is in charge. “I’ll say, ‘You see that young man or young lady over there? They’re in charge.’”
The events the Survivors campers put on include die-ins, showing images of abortion victims, and protesting at abortion facilities.
“As much as we schedule events over the course of the 10 days, we … always remain very flexible, because if any particular opportunity arises, we are like minutemen. We are ready to move at a moment’s notice,” said Imbarrato.
For example, two years ago, when the Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal and the prosecution of David Daleiden was in the news, the Survivors camp was being held in San Francisco. Survivors learned that Planned Parenthood was holding an event at the nearby Francis Drake Hotel.
“We went over there and did a full-blown protest,” the priest recalled.
For Catholics, the camp offers daily Mass. There is a Bible study every morning for all campers. They also participate in praise and worship singing and pray before and after every event. Prayer and contemplation are “very, very important” parts of the Christian camp, said Imbarrato.
One of the speakers this year will be LifeSiteNews columnist and podcast creator Jonathon Van Maren.
The camp is for ages 14 to 25. Homeschoolers are welcome and a group discount is available. Boys and girls sleep separately (everything is “strictly supervised”), adult leaders are carefully vetted, and “Christian values are stressed very, very strongly,” said Imbarrato.
The activist priest said that although it’s normal for police to show up at the camp events, they’ve never had a “serious encounter” with law enforcement.
“We are very protective of the kids.”
A significant event for the pro-life movement will occur in D.C. while the Survivors are there, too: Fr. Imbarrato, Bud Shaver, and Lauren Handy will be on trial for their March 19 Red Rose Rescue.
“As much as we will not cause any type of disruption in the courtroom, (there will be) demonstrations and activity outside the courtroom,” Imbarrato said.
“Training young people up in non-violent protest is critical,” Jeff White, founder of Survivors, told LifeSiteNews. This is especially important “as the left becomes progressively more and more violent – which they are – and more and more determined to silence our message.”
“We can’t abandon the public square,” he said.
“Twenty years ago, we challenged over 30 schools … over First Amendment activity,” White shared. “That was just on letting us on campus.”
Today, the situation is far scarier.
“It’s the students themselves,” not school administrations, who are trying to block pro-lifers from being allowed to share their message, he said. But “the tenants of peaceful, non-violent protest win the day over and over again.”
Registration forms and more information about the camp can be found here.