House Camp Out Guide
|DIY: Do It Yourself Activist Guide to Camping Out at Your Congressperson's Home
Read our CODEPINK activist guide (below) to planning your own camp out outside your Congressperson's home, based on the inspirational story of Camp Pelosi in San Francisco. Camp Pelosi was organized by CODEPINK women who wanted to encourage Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be a leader and vote against Bush's request for more money to continue the war in Iraq. Activists took their protest to Pelosi's house, after numerous attempts to meet with their Congresswoman were denied. Camp Pelosi organizer Toby Blome said, "When I was leaving my house the other day, I was thinking, I wouldn't like to walk out of my house and see a bunch of protesters protesting anything I'm doing, but then I thought of all the thousands of people suffering in this war, the 650,000+ Iraqi civilians who have been killed, and I thought, 'This is what we need to do.'" The encampment lasted 13 consecutive days and made a huge impact on the media, community and even received an acknowledgement from the Speaker.
Although the campers turned Camp Pelosi into a pink community gathering space to keep the pressure on the House Speaker to end the funding of the Iraq war, prevent an attack on Iran, and bring the troops home.
Using the simple guide below, you can organize a camp in your district to keep pressuring your Senators and Representatives to represent the majority of Americans (and their constitutents!) and bring the troops home!
15 Steps to a Successful Encampment
- Know Your Rights— Contact the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in your community, find out city regulations for demonstrating and camping, and contact a civil rights lawyer.
- Camp site— Locate your Congressperson's home address.
Tip: Check with the Department of Election in your local City Hall or visit www.opensecrets.org.
- Be flexible and check out the "campsite"– Adapt to your new surroundings, the weather, and the situation and legal limitations. Plan to sleep in a camper van or car, inside a tent, or outdoors on a blow-up mattress or a sleeping bag.
- Gathering contact info— Have a sheet for neighbors and visitors to sign saying that they support your camp and efforts. Use the contact info to keep people in your community informed of your actions and add new sign-ups to your local listserve as well as to the national CODEPINK alert list.
- Press—Alert local newspapers and news stations about your encampment action. Click here for tips on how to contact the press. If you need help with press contacts, email jeanstevenscodepink[at]gmail.com. Click here to download our sample press release.
- Visuals— Create exciting visuals that clearly convey your message—banners, signs, t-shirts, etc. For creative ideas, check out the photos from Camp Pelosi. If you are not allowed to hang a pink banner or a sign, use your car as a place to rest your message or dress up as your Congressperson.
- Neighbors— Locate sympathetic neighbor(s) in the area and let them know what you are doing. You'll probably find someone who will let you use a bathroom once a day - be discreet and appreciative.
- Goals— Come up with a good goal with timeline and stick to it.
- Don't get discouraged! Know that some may feel that camping out in front of your Congressional leader's house is inappropriate; remember your goal and stick to it!
- Literature— Have a list of local events and actions to hand out to visitors. Delegate flyer making to a camp supporter.
- Become a Camp Supporter! If you're unable to camp out, be supportive and relieve some of the campers for an hour or two for a break.
- Items needed for camp— Sleeping bag with pad, cell phones (especially for a press contact on site), folding chairs, canopy, umbrella (black with pink fabric, or pink!), water, ice cooler/fresh ice, pink banners, flyers, petitions, boom box and batteries.
- Tone/Message— Be respectful and positive about your tone, creating and developing the story you want to tell to the people, the media and your Congressperson.
- Create a Virtual Camp—Create an on-line camp by blogging or vlogging. Click here to check out our blog guide.
- Outreach— Get new people involved, reach out to peace groups and special interests groups (health care, education etc), celebrities, artists, and street artists. Ask other groups to sponsor a camp out day. Click here to download our sample cosponsorship letter to send to other peace and justice groups.
News stories about Camp Pelosi to inspire your camp:
Do you have questions about getting your camp going? Contact Nancy at peace[at]globalexchange.org.