Young Democrats Sign Up Here

Mark Strama's 2010 Campaign Academy kicks off this summer

Young Democrats Sign Up Here
Photo by Richard Whittaker

If you're a high school or college student interested in Democratic politics, the Mark Strama for State Representative Campaign Academy is an alternative to the traditional summer camp.

Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, is a former director of programs for Rock the Vote and started the Campaign Academy in 2004 during his first run for the Texas House of Representatives. "The goal was tap into the energy and enthusiasm of young people," said Strama. The camp only happens every other year when Strama is actually campaigning. "Otherwise" he said, "it would be theoretical and not real world".

2004 camp graduate David Mauro said, "For younger people it's hard to find an opportunity where you are going to have a real hands-on experience with a campaign." Students who attend this years' academy will work for Strama's campaign by registering voters, knocking on doors, making phone calls and listening to a series of guest speakers. For some, it's a gateway to a career in politics: Mauro has gone on to work on multiple campaigns, while another 2004 attendee, Karl-Thomas Musselman, went on to manage Strama's 2008 election and now publishes the Burnt Orange Report political blog. Mauro said, "The Campaign Academy is pretty unique because it gives students real responsibility in the campaign."

The academy has attracted national attention, with previous speakers include former Vice-President Al Gore, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Elizabeth Trovall attended the camp in 2008 and remembers creating a video inviting former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean to come speak to the academy. She also worked on the Campaign Academy's 2008 blog which inspired her to start her own blog. Now a journalism student at the University of Missouri, Trovall felt her summer experience was a great way to prepare for her future career. "I did a lot of things for the first time, which was really scary," she said. "That really prepared me for college and for journalism and just learning how to get outside my comfort zone."

Mauro added, "If you're in Austin and you want to get involved in Democratic politics but you don't have any real formal experience, this is the best way to do it."

This year's camp will run from June 14-July 16. Click here for more information.

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