Camp Odyssey: The Dream Revived for a New Generation
In 1988 a gang of skinheads in Portland, Oregon bludgeoned a 28-year-old Ethiopian student named Mulugeta Seraw to death. In response, a group of community leaders from Oregon's American Leadership Forum (ALF) Class III chapter initiated an experimental youth camp to help foster tolerance and respect for others' differences. Camp Odyssey ran for twelve years instead of the planned three, and provided over 1000 youth (and adults) from every ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic background in the Pacific Northwest a safe space to explore their biases, address “isms” and learn about the painful impacts of oppression.Decades later in 2010, a group of Camp Odyssey alumni, so transformed by their Odyssey experience, came together and resurrected the Portland-based program to give next generations the same unique opportunity they received as teens. Partnering as a fiscal sponsor, Janus Youth Programs and many original Camp founders and supporters joined the alumni to address continuing systemic discrimination. As FBI Crime Statistics show that hate crimes are on the rise locally and nationally, the alumni and supporters recognize that the problem has not gone away.
With the belief that future participants can go beyond addressing prejudice and personal transformation, the alumni's aim of reviving Camp Odyssey is to re-create the space where young people are empowered into becoming social investors, transforming not only themselves, but also our collective communities.
To ensure long-term stability so that Camp Odyssey can remain free for all youth, in 2011, the alumni created a parent organization and secured independent 501(c)(3) non-profit status as The Piece. Working from a Mission "to challenge systems of privilege, and explore the individual and social impacts of oppression through experiential education and programming for youth and adults of diverse backgrounds," The Piece and Camp Odyssey are committed to furthering social justice.
The Piece comes from a long history of use at Camp, referring to owning our piece in society and systemic oppression, speaking our piece and truths, and the pieces of work that still need to be done, towards social change and human dignity. We welcome you and want to know.
What's Your Piece?
The Piece Board of Directors
Linh Ngo, Alumni '90, Board Co-Chair, Mental Health Counselor
William Raw, Alumni '90, Board Co-Chair, Youth Group Home Staff and Soccer Coach
Nicole Potter, Alumni '93, Chair of Programming, Makeup Artist and Social Entrepreneur
Doug Honma, Alumni ’96, Treasurer, Master of Public Administration and Legislative Aid
Cree Gordon, Staff '11, Board Member, Outreach Worker, Looking Glass and New Roads
Amirah Said, Staff '11, Board Member, Counseling Psychology Masters Candidate
Camp Odyssey Advisory Council
Dennis Morrow, ’90 Camp Odyssey founder, ALF Class III, Executive Director of Janus Youth Programs
Gloria Gostnell, '90 Camp Odyssey founder, ALF Class III, Consultant for the Center for Courage and Renewal
Dr. Tillie Makepeace, ’90 Camp Odyssey staff, Janus Youth Counseling Program Director
Tom Nelson, ’90 Camp Odyssey founder, ALF Class III, Consultant and Career Coach at Reed College