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2012 Action Camp Reportback #2: Tactical Skills Tracks


Welcome to Installment #2 of the 2012 Action Camp for Migrant Rights report-back!  Click to read installments one, three, and four.

This week, we're focusing on the Tactical Skills Tracks, which were a major part of the Action Camp curriculum again this year.  Participants had a choice of three Tracks to choose between, to focus on throughout the Camp:

  1. Blockades and Occupations
  2. Creative Resistance (Arts) 
  3. Action Climbing

Pitch in to the Action Camp Fund to help us with follow-up trainings and action support in participants' local communities! Click here to donate.


About half of the 5-day curriculum was spent in the Tactical Skills Tracks, whereas the rest of the time was spent in a mixture of full-group sessions or choose-your-own-adventure-style small-group workshops.

 Participants were encouraged to choose their Track based on previous experience, training, and their prospects for real-world applications in their home campaigns. 

On the final day, participants worked together across tracks to design and execute multi-faceted actions, applying their skills in the all-camp Action Role Play.



Each Track, with its own training team of specialists in that area, worked together for months leading up to camp, and of course throughout the camp itself, offered various participants a chance to go deep into the theory, practice and application of their chosen skill, allowing participants to build their expertise in that skill area.

Here's a peak at what happened in each of the three Tactical Skills Tracks, as reported by the training teams:


1. Blockades & Occupations:

“At the storied Highlander Center, origin for labor strikes and pickets and for civil rights sit-ins and bus rides, The Ruckus Society guided migrants rights activists from across the country in learning the techniques and joy of nonviolently holding space.

We began with examination of the theory and practice of blockades from around the world, then explored the effective use of our bodies, chains, lockboxes, barrels, and tripods, along with discussing all the logistical considerations - from scouting to sanitation and everything in between.

Throughout, it was always the community of participants that created any success - from their challenging questions, to the sharing of their own experiences, to the teaching of tactics to other track participants during their free time, and culminating with their rocking blockades during the Mass Action Role Play.

And, it is the participants that are and will put their new knowledge into effect, beginning with the Undocu-Bus Tour and ending only when we've created the human and civil rights tomorrow for migrants in America that we all expect and deserve.”

2. Creative Resistance (Arts):

“The Creative Resistance Track worked with over 30 activists to support them in identifying their group’s messages and then collaboratively creating art for migrant justice. Participants learned silkscreening, puppet-making, banner-making, theatre, stenciling, wheat-pasting and other street arts in mini sub-tracks on each tactic, and then also learned how to put it all together to form a cohesive and creative action during the role play at the end of camp.



Trainers feel satisfied that we accomplished our goals of:  

  • Exposing Chicano Theater and the power and potential of the form as a tool for front line action
  • Creating a community that worked considerably well with one another
  • Creating an “acto” (theatre piece) called"Poli-Migra", that reflected much of what our migrant communities are going through
  • Sharing how to transform ideas and concepts into "people sculptures" to then photograph and stylize in Photoshop and use in poster designs
  • Provide skills training and experience in banner making, poster-making, flag-making, puppet making, wheat-pasting, and the use in these in a direct action
  • Make stencils and screens using a variety of mediums, including contact sticker sheets in which the designs were traced on the sheets and cut with Xacto blades and then affixed onto the screen
  • Presenting the acto as part of the mock action and for the camp at large

Participants shared that they were excited to leave with concrete skills that were immediately applicable to their work, and t-shirts, posters, banners, flags, stencils and puppets ready to be put to use. We’ve already been receiving photos and reports from arts-infused actions that participants brought their new skills to in Tennessee, Arizona and California."

Check out this great report-back from trainer and artist Jesus Barraza from Dignidad Rebelde about his role training screenprinting in the Creative Resistance Track.


3. Action Climbing:

"This camp's training focused on developing introductory- and intermediate-level direct action Climbing skills to a dedicated and inspiring group of activists from the migrant rights movement, along with other communities, such as Occupy Wall Street.  It also provided an opportunity for existing Ruckus Network climbers to come together again, and build up our own sense of community, while working with a great group of highly-motivated and creative camp participants.

Although we were challenged by time constraints, being slightly geographically isolated from the rest of site, and the hot hot heat of Tennessee summer sun beating down on us, we were able to start participants on the road to being action-ready direct action climbers.  

During the week, the skills we covered included:

  • basic ascension and descension techniques
  • problem solving
  • group climbing and teamwork
  • banner deployment

It was a great opportunity to introduce climbing skills to a community that is hungry for those skills, and eager to put them to use in the future.  Additionally, it brought together multiple generations of Ruckus climb trainers together for a common purpose, and helped to both revive and deepen our collective sense of community."


Stay tuned for more Action Camp Reportbacks in the coming weeks, including coverage of the rest of the curriculum, cross-movement connections, and more!


Pitch in to the Action Camp Fund to help us with follow-up trainings and action support in participants' local communities! Click here to donate.


Click to read installments one, three, and four!