Anytown Alabama is a social justice summer camp for teens started by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) in 1989. The NCCJ is a human relations organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism in America. The YWCA and NCCJ have been collaborating partners in bringing Anytown to the community since 2011.
Anytown Alabama is a summer camp where high school students develop leadership skills that they bring back to their school and community. Student “delegates” come from all over Birmingham and represent different races, genders, religions, schools, neighborhoods, immigration statuses and abilities. Located at the beautiful Camp Hargis, Anytown gives students the chance to canoe, hike, fish, play basketball, and swim in the pool or lake, while also participating in honest dialogue and interactive learning about social justice issues. They also engage in team building exercises that create lifelong friendships and a supportive, inclusive camp environment. Students learn how to respond to difficult real-life situations with kindness, courage and respect.
Students leave Anytown as leaders, more confident, empathetic and ready to stand up for what they believe is right. Students who attend Anytown have a positive impact on a school’s culture as they discourage intolerance and bullying and serve as allies for marginalized students. Interaction with a diverse group at Anytown also prepares students for life after high school where cultural sensitivity and the ability to communicate with different types of people are crucial.
Read what past Anytown Alabama delegates had to say about their camp experience.
“I feel that this is an invaluable experience that has opened my eyes and will change me for the rest of my life.” — Haley
“It’s a good feeling being around such positive people. I tend to associate myself with people who are just like me, but this week I met people from all walks of life.” — Antionette
“I am truly privileged to have the opportunity to learn about different cultures in depth. I also got the privilege of being able to come up with ways of how I can spread the things that I learned here to other people.” — Carley
“Anytown taught me how to make friends as myself, not what I thought people wanted to see.” — Tyler
“Anytown helped me gain confidence in my culture for the first time. Not only was I welcomed and accepted by a group of peers and advisors, but I began to see a reason to be proud of my ethnic culture.” — Josh