Grooming a new generation of leaders: Camp Calls

California Calls’ strategy to inspire a new generation of voters is based on the simple idea that people respond best to people they know – their family, their friends and their neighbors. Deepening the skills and confidence of an army of thousands of grassroots leaders is critical to our ability to mobilize 500,000 occasional voters to the polls.

Towards that end, California Calls convened its first “Camp Calls”, an inspiring, groundbreaking training for the core leadership of the alliance. Three hundred leaders from 17 organizations in vastly different regions of the state gathered in Los Angeles for a weekend of political education, story-telling and skills building.

The excitement of the three day weekend began on Friday night when participants met around a “makeshift campfire” (a giant orange paper flame), forming “troops” – cohorts of 12 people who shared the weekend experience together. Each troop came up with chants and creative names like Fighting in Solidarity and Truth (FIST), Leading People for Change, and the West Coast Swagger Factory. Click here to see pictures.

The curriculum covered story-telling, the origins and consequences of California’s devastating 1978 Proposition 13 (that created a giant corporate property tax loophole), competing values about the role of government, tax and fiscal policy solutions, and how to recruit volunteers.

“I got a little more courage to stand up and say what I think and feel,” one participant explained when asked what she got out of Camp Calls. Another said, “We may be different races, genders, ages and from different parts of the state, but we have the same problems and are in this fight together. Our stories really do connect.”

The curriculum was developed by staff from California Calls and WorkingPartnerships, USA, based on a scan of best practices. Thanks goes to Making Cents, California Federation of Teachers, National Organizing Institute, and SCOPE for use of training modules.