By Dave Andrusko
Editor’s note. One of the many important developments in our Movement—and a most encouraging one—is the growth of pro-life summer camps. I wrote this article a while back but because planning for these camps is already in high gear, it seemed like a good time to repost the story.
I really do subscribe to the idea that you give the devil his due. If the in-house publishing arm of the Abortion Establishment picks up a largely favorable story about a pro-life summer camp and runs it, well, the New York Times should be given kudos.
I actually first read the story—“Summer Camp Focuses on Fight Against Abortion”–in The Texas Tribune. Reporter Morgan Smith wrote about the pro-life camp run by Texas Right to Life, NRLC’s state affiliate.
Opinions can differ, obviously, but in my opinion you could hardly expect a more glowing story this side of National Right to Life News Today. (Equally obvious, by now we should no longer be seeing use of the outdated description “anti-abortion,” but….)
Smith does a great job making sure the reader understands these are passionate kids who care about the unborn and who want to make a difference. For example,
“’They all have a passion; that’s why they are here,’ said Jen Rumpf, a second-year counselor and the outgoing president of Pro-Life Aggies [the pro-life group on the campus of Texas A & M]…
“The purpose of the camp, Rumpf said, is to plug students into the movement and help them refine their passion into knowledge they can use to advance the cause in their own communities.”
To that end the story talks how the camp has “workshops on starting a student organization and communicating well.”
But there are also loads of amusing, gentle reminders that these are still teenagers. If the reader has no opinion one way or the other, he or she probably would say to themselves, “Those are the kinds of kids I want my son or daughter to hang around with.”
But the best part is the last five paragraphs where the reader comes to understand that these campers’ hearts extend to both mother and unborn baby.
“Rumpf and other counselors said they try to teach campers to avoid commonly perceived anti-abortion ‘turnoffs’— in particular, an overly aggressive, judgmental approach. She said counselors encourage them to focus on a gentler, compassion-based form of persuasion.
“’You really care about this woman, and you really care that other people don’t know about this issue. But are they bad people?’” she said. ‘No, they just might not know all of the truth. Because that is really the only way that pro-lifers are going to win anything is inviting them in to talk.’
“Back at the lodge, campers were about to watch video clips of activists speaking with abortion-rights sympathizers on the street, to critique and observe their methods.
“But first, Stevens had a message for them.
“’If we are going to be effective, we have to care about who we are talking to,’ she said. ‘You’ve got to be sensitive to make a difference in someone’s world.’”
Smith is even more keenly insightful in a segment that aired on “Texas Tribune Weekend Insider.” (If you go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq1HmQCZoRg&feature=player_embedded#! you’ll find her comments beginning at the 2:12 mark.)
There are additional kernels of information (BTW, here she uses “pro-life” rather than “anti-abortion.”)
For example, that baby and toy supply drives are something “that a lot of prolife groups do for pregnant women.”
Smith also elaborates on how the camps emphasize a basic truth for pro-lifers: there are stereotypes that pro-lifers are “overly aggressive or judgmental” that they will run up against.
So there is, Smith says,
“this focus on having compassion and really listening to people, talking to them about what their viewpoints were and really trying to understand where they are coming from, and then approaching them in that way and trying to bring them around to the Pro-Life Movement.”
Kudos to The Texas Tribune and to the New York Times for picking up the story and running it.