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I Campout because...

Something that we felt was lacking from the Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health event was genuine Western student involvement. Our efforts included raising money and awareness, and for the most part, we did each fairly successfully, but emotionally affecting those that came in contact with the Campout was something we felt was lacking.

Brother Jerry Ding had the brilliant idea of using his camera and a whiteboard to get students to write out why they believe mental health awareness is important to them. We encouraged students to start with the phrase “I Campout for…” or “I Campout because…” and then write out how they’ve been affected, or what they believe should be changed institutionally about the way we think about and deal with mental illness. After the photograph was taken, we further encouraged students to make them their Facebook profile pictures, so everyone could see their image, encouraging even more to come out and get pictures taken.

The response was unbelievable. The post reach on the Official Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health page jumped from about 2,200 in the morning to about 33,000 in the evening. The campaign helped get the word out for people who otherwise would never have heard of the event, and it got dozens, if not hundreds of people, critically thinking about their role in helping their family, friends, or even themselves through poor mental health. We are so pleased with the positive response and the genuine reactions from people. We were blown away by the creativity and the visceral messages people were able to come up with, and we hope to do the Campout Photobooth Campaign for next year’s event as well!

Learn more about the Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health on our blog.

-Vandan Jhaveri, Head Coordinator of the Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health