Camps in Contrast: Black and White or Full Color?

By Joleigh Little, WTL Director, Wisconsin Teens for Life

WIcamp3reIt has been quite a week of contrasts. On the heels of our return from last week’s National Right to Life Convention in Dallas, I received two different articles forwarded by colleagues from NRLC.

One, a New York Times piece on a feminist youth camp in New York City (I know, calling anything “camp” in NYC is a bit of a stretch) and one a hatchet job on the NRLC convention itself by an abortion apologist who attended “undercover.” Since Dave Andrusko has already done a masterful job of answering the “convention attack piece” point by point, I will focus on a topic near and dear to my heart.


More specifically, youth camps.

Even more specifically, youth camps with a focus on abortion.

Some years ago another convention mole did an article decrying the prevalence of right-to-life camps for youth and wondered aloud why her side didn’t have such an animal. Lo, this many years later, it seems they have started their own training program.

But reading about their “feminist” camps leaves me feeling a little bit sad. And kind of empty. You see, I am used to spending a several weeks of my summer surrounded by happy, positive, life-affirming teenagers who have a passion to speak for those who have no voice.

We spend our days learning about life – I dare you to find a more uplifting topic – as well as the threats to life at all its stages. (Okay, that part can be depressing.) We spend our mealtimes laughing and building relationships. We spend our evenings playing games and learning to work together as part of a team — a team that is focused on a goal much greater than any one member.

The ONLY thing missing in the entire week, really, is any kind of focus on self. Not once during our time together at camp do I hear campers championing their own rights.

And that is where the two brands of “camp” take divergent paths. Upon reading through the article ( all I could see was a group of people so focused on their own rights and choices that they completely left out a huge part of the equation.

The child.

Every abortion involves an innocent child. Biology has pretty much taken the guesswork out of that for us. Gone are the days where the pro-abortion movement insisted that pregnancy involves nothing more than a clump of cells indistinguishable from an appendix or tonsils — something that could be removed without a second thought. They now, for the most part, agree that what lives inside the uterus of every pregnant woman is a small member of the human family.

They just don’t seem to care.

Maybe if we ignore unborn children they will somehow be less human? Perhaps if we yell loudly enough about “autonomy for women” or “freedom of choice,” we will drown out those tiny voices? Or if we focus enough on self perhaps our vision will narrow to the point that we don’t see anyone else – at least not anyone else who isn’t the same general age, size and shape as we are?

That is the real danger, isn’t it?

Focusing on self (or one’s own kind) to the exclusion of others has spawned a lot of dangerous ideologies. Racism. Sexism. Nazism. And that’s just to name a few.

Now, contrast that with a movement of young people who are all about focusing on the rights and lives of others.

At Teens for Life camps we cover topics as broad as euthanasia, eugenics, stem cells, abortion, adoption, valuing people with special needs – and so much more. We focus on life. We affirm life. We celebrate life.

And we have a fabulous time doing it.

The pro-abortion movement often dismisses the supposed either/or mentality of the Pro-Life Movement. In fact we fervently believe in both/and—finding win-win solutions to crisis pregnancies.

It is apologist for abortion that reduces the complicated moral and ethical equation to black and white. If “it” gets in the way of a woman’s climb up the ladder of her choosing, “it” must be destroyed. Case closed.

In contrast, for those of us who love life, our daily walk is all about embracing those who are marginalized. We speak up for unborn children across the spectrum – male, female, African, Caucasian, Asian and all other races.

We detest the idea that you must be “perfect” to warrant the protection of the law. That is one reason we so passionately defend the right to life of people who are medically vulnerable, whether they be an aging grandmother suffering from dementia or a very young child born with Down syndrome.

We look at life and see not black and white but a broad spectrum of beautiful, bold, and vibrant colors. We get that “same” doesn’t mean “best.” We welcome you as part of the human family regardless of your size, level of development, mental state, or level of ability.

I can’t speak for everyone, but if I had to spend a week anywhere, it would be at a Teens for Life camp. But, that’s probably because I enjoy looking at walls covered with smiling baby faces and seeing kids comparing life-sized fetal models to the pregnant bellies of the women volunteering at camp.

Oh, and I love life. A lot.

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