Encouraging youth to pursue their passions and fight for what they believe in is a powerful way for parents to teach independence, inspire learning, and impart the importance of the impact they can make on their communities and the world.
The Ocean Heroes Bootcamp is an annual collaborative youth summit that empowers youth ages 11 to 18 around the world to take on environmental activism and fight plastic pollution. A weekend of workshops, guest speakers, and campaign development, Ocean Heroes Bootcamp mentors youth in the design of their own plastic pollution campaigns and teaches them about how to put those campaigns into action.
Powered by the Captain Planet Foundation, Lonely Whale, and the Point Break Foundation, supported by more than 10 other partners, and hosted by Ocean Wise in Vancouver, the 2nd annual Ocean Heroes Bootcamp took place in June, uniting youth from 20 countries for a weekend of workshops, think tanks, campaign creation, and camaraderie.
Taylor Wheeler, 12-year-old son of alive’s own Ellen Wheeler was one of the fortunate young participants at this year’s Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, taking part in the 3-day event designed to teach attendees skills centred around media literacy, global plastic policy, science education, critical campaigning, “artivism,” and idea incubation.
The bootcamp also included squad leaders designated to guide new attendees throughout the bootcamp and to share their experiences. Squad leaders Hannah Testa of Hannah for Change and Olivia and Carter Ries of One More Generation were grateful to share their passion and commitment to taking action against plastics pollution.
According to Hannah Testa, “The idea is to create activists like me. It took a while to get to where I am, and I want to help other youth skip that difficult time and give them tips on policy, campaigning, and social influence. We have the ability to mentor them so they can get there faster.
Youth activist Olivia Ries encourages adults and teachers to help. “I love Ocean Heroes Bootcamp. They bring youth from around the world together, to work and plan to make change happen. But we need the help of adults too.”
Building community and fostering an interest in change and advocacy is a profound way to support our children as they grow and to teach them their voice matters. To learn more about the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp and to inquire about next year’s event, visit oceanheroes.blue.
In addition to creating their own campaigns, Taylor Wheeler and his fellow heroes took part in various activities that involved artivism, a combination of art and activism.
In love letters to the sea, Taylor described the irony of the sea’s beauty coupled with the destruction created by man. He wrote about “the ocean filling with trash next to a beautiful sunset while the sea cried, ‘please help me.’”
A sampling of bootcamp workshops
As part of the #sharksquad, Taylor Wheeler took part in workshops like:
- Citizen science, hosted by Litterati, an app designed to reduce litter and pollution
- Plastic science with 5Gyres
- Media training with The Big Blue & You
- Campaign and pitching strategies with Captain Planet, Lonely Whale, and Erin Shrode, a highly successful activist who ran for US congress at age 25