The effects of Camp Courage are still being felt four days after the event. Many of the attendees are still talking about how great it was, and many others wishing that they had been able to attend. (By the way, there will be more. Fresno is confirmed for February 28/March 1st Stay tuned!)
According to the organization, 221 participants showed up to the inaugural event. It's exciting to hear them say that they're building "a grassroots army." You can see more footage, pictures, media coverage and more of Cleve Jones here.
I have heard a lot of criticism pointed at the grassroots organizations since the passing of Proposition 8 for being divisive, unable to cooperate with established leaders (or even amongst themselves, for that matter), and being completely unruly and unwilling to work with others, especially said leaders, and build much needed coalitions.
Having attended the Equality Summit, I could easily see where these criticisms came from. The Summit was full of tension, filled with irate people angry with the leadership of the failed No on 8 campaign. The grassroots doesn't trust the leaders of the No on 8 campaign, leaders who have been around probably a bit too long (being out of touch with those they represent is not an unusual circumstance leaders find themselves in when they've worn out their welcome), and that couldn't have been more evident at the event. (Though I do commend Geoff Kors for attending Camp Courage the following day.)
I myself have been irate but not with just the leaders. I have also been impatient with the grassroots for not getting it together by now, for not doing more direct action and doing the hard work of forging more powerful coalitions, which demands putting aside egos, something many of us have a hard time doing - to a fault.
However, the day following the Summit, at Camp Courage, it was remarkable, even amazing, how different the feel and tone was from so many of the same people that attended the Summit. It was palpable. The positivity electric. Many of times I have grown so discouraged with ourselves I wanted to quit, but everyone changed my perspective that day. It showed we can work together. It showed we can put aside our egos. It showed that we are able to get things done and act. But more importantly, it showed we have exactly what we need to win all of our rights.
It was exactly the remedy we needed.
I just hope we keep taking our medicine.