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Youth Opportunities

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About Youth Opportunities

YSOP is committed to helping young people become part of the solution to societal problems by showing them how even their smallest actions can make a difference in the lives of others. We welcome individuals, schools, colleges, faith-based groups, service organizations, businesses and other groups exploring ways they can help others in a variety of – more... contexts.

YSOP prepares future service leaders through a unique method- YSOP Workcamps. By combining meaningful volunteer work with a orientation and reflection, YSOP'ers provide vital services to people in need and at the same time are able to reflect on their experiences and broaden their perspectives.

4,021 volunteers participated in YSOP Workcamps last year, which vary from a single day to a week in length. Those YSOP'ers touched the lives of more than 463,600 hungry and homeless people through their work in shelters, soup kitchens, schools, food and clothing banks and other direct-service institutions in New York City, Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

A YSOP Workcamp is a great way to serve those in need. Workcamps are also an effective way to build team spirit, give direction to a group, unify a diverse set of individuals, or bring a year to a meaningful close while helping people feel good about themselves and others.

Participants learn a little about what it is like to be homeless. More importantly, they have the opportunity to meet with homeless people face to face and realize that they are not so different from themselves.

Why are YSOP Programs called Workcamps? Because they are operated in the same spirit as service projects around the world in the international Workcamp movement.

The idea of the Workcamp was inspired by Pierre Ceresole, a Swiss Quaker. His experience of the devastation of WWI led him to the idea of a broad movement of people of different faiths, countries, races, vocational and class backgrounds who would work together in peacetime to help after earthquakes, floods or other disasters. The concept of international volunteers doing service for peace was seen as a constructive alternative to military duty, and the moral equivalent of war.

The first projects to put this idea into action were rebuilding war torn areas in Europe. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was founded in 1917 by Quakers (Friends) to carry on relief and post war reconstruction in Europe.

Originally the Workcamps in Europe were intended primarily for convinced pacifists who wished to demonstrate their devotion to constructive work which was as rigorous as the destructive work demanded of soldiers. After the experience of WWI, AFSC and American Quakers brought the idea of the Workcamp to the US where the goal was expanded to better understand the economic and social injustices which cause violence. In 1934, in the depths of depression, the first official Workcamp took place in the US. In Westmoreland, PA volunteers built a water system for a new government subsistence homestead community. The workcamp was a success and influenced those who attended because it combined study of social problems with practical experience that gave meaning and urgency to the studies. Through personal experience the abstract was made concrete, adding the human dimension to intellectual study.

In subsequent years the workcamps multiplied. There were junior and senior workcamps, workcamps in rural settings such as Mississippi helping sharecroppers and in Appalachia, and workcamps in cities. Other organizations picked up on the idea and began running workcamps of their own.

WWII brought the need for alternative service assignments for conscientious objectors (CO's). Unlike WWI where CO's helped in such areas as Red Cross detachments, Congress made it illegal for CO's to leave the country. The Friends, with two traditionally pacifist churches, the Brethren and the Mennonites, ran Civilian Public Service camps for the government. The Vietnam War and its aftereffects saw a decline in the workcamp movement in the US, though government programs like AmeriCorps VISTA and Peace Corps could be considered a descendent of the workcamps. The workcamp movement continues to be very strong in Europe.

YSOP is responding to the idea that there is a great need for workcamps. – lessMore from ZoomInfo »

Youth Opportunities Employer Reviews

Mentor (Current Employee), Webb, MSMay 21, 2014
Residential Counselor, Van Driver (Former Employee), Winston-Salem, NCApril 8, 2014
Office Assistant (Former Employee), Cleveland, OHDecember 30, 2013
Development Officer (Current Employee), Winston-Salem, NCOctober 15, 2013
Former Therapist (Former Employee), Winston-Salem and everywhere elseJanuary 11, 2013

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