I’ve been thinking a lot about Mavis Beacon lately.
Not just because of her digitized encouragement to stay on the home keyboard row but the times my mother used to direct my siblings and me to do at least 30 minutes of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. My mother would give us this directive because a) learning doesn’t stop even during weekends and summers, b) she would not allow her home to be filled with “peckers” and c) we had to make enough time later for 30 minutes of CD-ROM Spanish. We’d also troop to the local career center and wait for my mom to finish her typing tests. She was always trying to improve her skills and since those many summers ago I’ve realized she held us accountable to do the same and then some.
I don’t know what my words per minute count is today but my obsession with self-improvement and growth continues to follow me as a journalist. How can I tell more impactful stories? Who is doing the work I want to do now and how did they get there? How can I be a better advocate for women in our industry? How can I maximize my time and skills to uplift other women? What professional and social capital am I willing to put on the line to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone in need? How can I stay competitive for the future?
These are big questions that I think and talk about a lot with mentors and other journalists alike and they guided the CAMP Committee‘s thinking about CAMP 2019 programming.
But we can’t talk about our upcoming retreat without acknowledging CAMP 2018. Perhaps in the aftermath of it you’ve been skeptical, worried or disappointed with the organization. CAMP 2018 was a reckoning of sorts—on race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc.— that no one was ready for. Programming at CAMP 2019 is honestly a continuation of that reckoning but it’s wrapped around coming together for workshops and activities to help our members and new attendees connect, learn, build and most important of all, foster trust with each other. We’re reckoning and reconciling at CAMP 2019.
The committee realized that CAMP 2019 has to be different because our future—as an organization and women in the industry—depends on it. A collective reconciling requires strategic thinking, bold action and fierce introspection about who we are and who we want to be not only as journalists but women championing women. We can’t effectively do those things without the skills of the future; the funding of our ideas; the best questions to make our stories hit harder; learning how to step into leadership; or connecting with people to inspire and reinvigorate our dreams. Our survival depends on our accountability to the craft, uplifting our networks and our willingness to listen and learn from each other. We fail our future selves and the people coming behind us if we don’t properly grapple with our truths and areas of growth to find a path forward.
We can’t reveal everything we have in store for CAMP but we can give some highlights. Our keynote speakers include Dorothy Gilliam, author of “Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America” and Susan Smith Richardson, CEO of the Center for Public Integrity. Some of our workshops are on investigative reporting, covering women candidates and voters in the 2020 election cycle, grant project funding, how to protect yourself online and how to be an effective ally in tough situations. JAWS’ diversity and inclusion consultant Alicia T. Crosby will also be around during CAMP and facilitating discussions about what the future of our organization should look like.
We’re also hoping to entice you with a chance to explore Williamsburg if you haven’t been already. We are staying in Colonial Williamsburg, a premier cross-cultural living history experience. There’s also nearby Jamestown, which is including a focus on women; Yorktown, with two museums and the Revolutionary War battlefield; the Williamsburg Tasting Trail and the Kingsmill Resort, minutes away from our hotel and with a celebrated spa and golf course. And if none of those things are for you, we have a session—with a historian—on why our presence in Williamsburg this year matters.
We hope you’ll join us for a reimagined CAMP.
Marissa Evans is leading programming for CAMP 2019. She is the social issues reporter for The Star Tribune in Minneapolis where she reports on affordability, equity, housing and health issues in the Twin Cities.
She was previously the health and human service policy issues for The Texas Tribune. Her reporting has appeared in The Atlantic, CQ Roll Call, Civil Eats, NBC BLK, Cosmo for Latinas, Kaiser Health News, The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. She is a 2013 alumna of Marquette University in Milwaukee.