What is IDEA Camp?

IDEA Camp is a training and development experience for individuals and groups working for educational change rooted in equity and progressive practice. Camp offers change makers the opportunity to look deeply at the issues and challenges within the education landscape, gain tools for transformative organizing, and develop personal and group skills to move change forward while building capacity to address issues of race, power, equity, and privilege.

IDEA organizes both open camps available to individuals and groups, and custom designed camps, in which we work with you to create a camp experience tailored specifically to your community. 

The three core aspects of IDEA Camp

1. Learning about the Education Landscape

  • Understand the history and reality of key education policies and practices
  • See what powerful learning looks like in a variety of settings
  • Focus on key challenges, issues, and solutions for making change

2. Training in Transformational Organizing

  • Gain tools and strategies for grassroots community organizing
  • Change the education narrative and use storytelling for impact
  • Get guidance on tracking and learning from change efforts

3. Personal and Group Development

  • Build capacity to address issues of race, power, equity, and privilege
  • Develop personal and group plans for making change in one’s own practice and in one’s school or program


“Working at the Mission Hill School has taught me well that the only way to make meaningful change is to involve smart, passionate people in the process, give them ownership, trust them, support them and get out of the way! That is what IDEA is doing. The experience, knowledge, expertise, talent, passion, and determination of the people at IDEA Camp were astounding to me!”
~ Jenerra Williams, teacher at Mission Hill School and IDEA Camp Minnesota participant

Who is IDEA Camp for?

  • Teachers and youth workers striving to provide young people with powerful learning opportunities and create change in their schools and programs
  • Young people seeking to gain skills to advocate for changes in their schools, programs, and communities
  • Parents working to improve the quality of education for their children and for young people in their communities
  • School and district administrators looking for tips and strategies to lead successful change efforts that are grounded in the voices of their community
  • Education organizers and advocates working in communities and partnering with schools who wish to see examples of democratic education in practice and build strategies for school and community improvement
  • YOU!


What does IDEA Camp look and feel like?

Over the course of several days, IDEA Camp builds a sense of community among participants and groups who come with a set of stories, challenges, and goals. We strive to create an open space for sharing, for exploring questions, and for learning. We go beyond the surface level narratives and don’t avoid the tensions and hard conversations that must be faced if we are to achieve equity with respect for all young people and communities.

We call it “Camp” because it’s more in-depth and intimate than a typical conference, and we often locate camps in retreat-style and natural settings that offer opportunities for outdoor time and after-hours conversations. You’ll experience a mix of structured full group sessions, small group discussions, individual time for reflection, and open space for topics that arise.

Camp is the only professional development that I have been a part of that really did feel like the building of a network rather than the imparting of information.  I have colleagues across the country whose work isn't the same as mine, but is in the same spirit, and has enriched the way I look at my own.  Colleagues that I root for, learn from, and rely on again and again.
~ IDEA Camp Vermont participant

Upcoming IDEA Camps

Coming soon!

Custom Designed Camps

We can also design a Camp specifically for your school, organization, or group as a professional development opportunity, training, or retreat. We'll begin with your goals and needs and fine tune an experience that helps move your work forward. We can work with groups as small as 10 and as large as 50.
Custom designed Camps can include all of the core aspects described above, or focus on one or two areas in particular. If you are dealing with a key struggle in your community, such as strengthening or maintaining your progressive practice in the face of state or federal mandates, dealing with equity and racial tensions, or experiencing leadership transitions, IDEA Camp can help provide the space and support for challenging conversations and strategic planning.
Or, if you are simply needing an experience that helps connect your community and offers a chance to take a breath, reflect, and get inspired for a new year, a custom designed Camp may be just what is needed. 
Send us a note and learn more about how we can design a Camp for you or your school or group: Crystal Mattison,


Something New: an article about the power of IDEA Camp by Jenerra Williams, teacher at Mission Hill School in Boston.

Discouraged from Dreaming: a story of how IDEA Camp helped Nancy Flanagan, educator and blogger at EdWeek, step back and have the opportunity to dream.