Nonviolence Boot Camps

The Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center Boot Camps in civic engagement offer community based, out of school peer-coaching leadership experience, that strengthens interracial, inter-generational and international social relationships to increase civic engagement, success in school, and resiliency. They are residential and correspond to school breaks: Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Summer.

Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center

Summer Boot Camps

Each summer for six weeks delegations of up to 120 students travel to urban, rural and tribal communities.  Participants experience personal transformation in the context of bringing change to our communities and nation.

Tour participants:

  • Read, write and study in interactive class sessions
  • Meet with elected officials, civil rights leadership, judges, tribal leaders, labor, cultural and community representative and activists
  • Spend the summer engaging with communities developing their leadership skills
  • Critically analyze social conditions and injustices and work together to identify positive solutions through community organizing and political action
  • Experience deep personal transformation, gaining understanding of one’s life purpose and meaning
  • Bring lasting benefits to communities in the form of heightened civic engagement
  • Sleep in dormitories, on gymnasium floors. They camp out, cook, clean and study together

Students must be nominated to apply.  Nominations come from leaders and public servants from the communities they represent (including teachers, principals and elected officials).  Participants share a passion for making a difference and a commitment to this rigorous and rewarding summer.

The tours focus on the vital importance and urgency of civic engagement.  Students explore four themes in depth:  water rights, law enforcement accountability, ending childhood poverty and the need for equitable civics classes in all schools.

All transportation, materials room and board are provided.

Days of Gratitude

Common understanding of the history of Thanksgiving is replete with myths, and absent historical context. Like many holidays in the US, Thanksgiving is dominated by consumerist messages. It is also full of racially divisive narratives.

This three-day residential experience offers participants an opportunity to explore US history of the declaration of Thanksgiving, learn about Tribal Sovereignty, as well as the role of gratitude.

  • Participants have the opportunity to visit and exchange with a Native Nation
  • Classes explore the significant meaning of Tribal Sovereignty to American Democracy
  • Gratitude is explored in a cultural and historical context
  • Participants gain an understanding of individual and group power

Days of Gratitude are hosted by a Tribal Nation. Participants have been hosted at the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Quinault Indian Nation, and the Yurok Tribe. In addition to visiting Tribal enterprises, museums and sacred sites, time is set aside for an exchange with Tribal representatives. These conversations offer insights and learning about the social, cultural and political significance of Tribal Sovereignty.

Interactive classes and study offer participants new perspectives on the importance of the role of gratitude in one’s life. Dr. King says if you can’t find something to be grateful for in your life, make up your mind there is something wrong with you!

Participants camp out or sleep on school gymnasium or grange floors and make their own meals.

Life and Legacy of Dr. King

Dr. King is widely associated with “having a dream”.  Yet his life’s contributions carry us well beyond dreaming, and into the day-today responsibilities of creating the Beloved Community.  Each winter break for a full week, participants gain a deep understanding of Dr. King’s contributions.  They study, read, write and dialogue together.  Each participant ends the week prepared to make a 45 minute speech on the significance of Dr. King’s legacy for us today.

This transformative experience:

  • Builds public speaking and communication skills
  • Heightens analytical thinking
  • Develops team work and social skills
  • Increases knowledge of important American history lessons with a focus on civil rights and equity
  • Develops courage, the inner resolution to go forward in spite of obstacles and frightening situations
  • Develops self-control
  • Reorients the participant to achieving personal and group power

The week of “Life and Legacy” takes place in a camping, non-urban setting.  Past settings have included Camp Bonita YMCA in the Marin Headlands, various East Bay Regional Parks locations, and the Jack O’Dell Reflection Center in Washington State.

Participants enjoy benefits of hiking, exploring the natural world, and reflection.

Students must be nominated to apply for all Boot Camps.  For more information please call our offices today at 510-434-3988.

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