Dutch Alumni Volunteer at Spring Service Event

By Koen Roskamp, Merel van Helten and Gerrianne Pennings

While it was still freezing at Clinton, the first days of spring weather had arrived in the Netherlands. For a couple years, the Dutch alumni enjoy that lovely spring weather together. Not only at the spring gathering to welcome the new campers, but also during the National Day of Community Service, called NL Doet, which can be translated to ‘the Netherlands Acts’. The idea behind this day is to come together as alumni and to apply what we learnt at Camp Rising Sun to our own country. A little bit of project time on a Saturday in March. Our youngest alumni organise this yearly event with support of a board member of the Dutch Alumni Association. This year the task was up to Merel van Helten and Koen Roskamp (CRS ’16). More than 15 alumni that attended camp somewhere between 1971 and 2016, including family and friends participated this year. We had an exciting day of building and digging.

NL Doet started fifteen years ago. The foundation behind the organisation sponsors all kinds of projects in the whole country. This year more than 350.000 volunteers participated in 9.500 projects. This year, the Dutch alumni came together to help in Utrecht at a public garden that grows vegetables and fruits for the neighbourhood, local restaurants, and volunteers.

With help of Gerrianne we contacted the people from “food for good” in Utrecht. Luckily they still had place for us. Last Saturday we planted some apple trees, various kinds of berry bushes and we build a large wooden cage around the bushes to keep the birds and other animals from stealing the fruits in the summer. We also got to know some other people. All in all, we had an amazing day with a lot of fun and some hard work!
— Koen Roskamp
Even though it was challenge to find a project that had space for 15 alumni, I would encourage every alumni association to be active in your local communities. It is a wonderful way to spread the Camp Rising Sun message beyond the borders of our own alumni community. Family members and other volunteers in the project get to know Camp Rising Sun better and for alumni it is a nice way to catch up with each other. Lastly, hammering nails and digging holes brings back a bit of project time spirit in all of us, and who doesn’t love that?
— Gerrianne Pennings 

Maple Syrup Day 2017

We had a wonderful time making maple syrup last weekend at Camp Rising Sun. 30 alumni spanning  4 decades braved the cold weather and joined us at Clinton to learn how to make maple syrup from scratch. We had our biggest turnout yet for what has become a Camp Rising Sun tradition.  

volunteer weekend col.jpg

Maple syrup magic begins when Cameron taps the trees to collect the sap in the weeks leading up to the day. On Saturday, volunteers took turns to boil the sap outdoors until the excess water evaporated. Other alumni gathered around the fire for warmth and conversation.

Inside, alumni were busy filtering the syrup multiple times until the golden elixir was ready to be bottled. Meanwhile, kids and adults alike cut out labels for the bottles. It was a great opportunity to step into the spirit of teamwork and project time.

Once the hard work was completed, we all enjoyed a delicious lunch and great conversations followed. We were excited to see alumni from different generations come together, some meeting for the first time.

If you are in the New York area, we would love to see you in our future events. Camp Rising Sun events also occur around the globe so remember to get in touch with your local Alumni Association to join their events.

Upcoming events:

  • April 29th: Board Meeting, New York Camper Welcome Session followed by Alumni Cocktail Reception hosted by NYAA.
  • May 20-21: May Volunteer Weekend. Join us at Camp to help set up tents and reconnect with alumni. Let us know if you will be joining us here.
  • June and July: Camper Hosting. What a better way to revisit your CRS experience than to host campers before the they head off to camp?
  • Alumni Weekend 2017: The reunion will take place between sessions and alumni are welcome to stay on Tent Hill and join in for the Board Meeting, Alumni Council,  projects, instructions, and much more! There will be a special welcome for alumni celebrating 5th, 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th, or 40th, 50th & 60th reunions, who will be able to join the reunion free of charge.  Click here to register now!


If you would like to stay in touch with the CRS community, here are a few great ways to do so:

  • CRS Facebook page: Updates, alumni interviews, events and much more are posted weekly on the Camp Rising Sun Facebook page.
  • Newsletter: Are you receiving our monthly newsletter with the latest updates and future events? If you are not, email echej@lajf.org.
  • CRS Alumni Forum: The forum is a virtual meeting place for our CRS community, it is moderated and run by alumni. Join the conversation!
  • Linkedin Camp Rising Sun Alumni Group: Connect professionally with Camp Rising Sun alumni across the globe.

Connect professionally with CRS Alumni: Forum and LinkedIn

Often around the Council fire, we hear stories of alumni providing a life-long connections and support. There are countless examples of alumni offering a first job, free advice and when lucky, mentorship. These connections can happen organically through alumni associations and word-of-mouth or more directly with the help of LinkedIn. We encourage our alumni to share job opportunities and career expertise to make our community even more vibrant.

There are two easy ways to make meaningful professional connections with Camp Rising Sun alumni.  Back in the day, Freddie and Vera Brophy would send alumni questionnaires asking about job and apprenticeship opportunities that they could share with younger generations. Today we have the internet!

1.     Join the CRS Alumni Forum to talk at length about different career paths

The forum is the perfect place to ask people about their careers and to explore different options. If you want to share your personal experience and share your insight, this is your place. Current threads include: Employment at the UN, Sustainable Design, careers in the business world, becoming a pilot, Medicine, Humanitarian Aid, Teaching and many more!

2.     Join the Alumni of Camp Rising Sun group on Linkedin

This group is the ideal place to share job and internship opportunities. If you or your company are hiring, let the CRS community know. If you are looking for new opportunities, don’t be shy introduce yourself. You will be able to see other group members’ profiles to learn more about their experience. 

Meet the Program Committee

Are you interested in learning more about the Camp Rising Sun curriculum? Have you ever wanted to join the summer visit team? Did you ever wonder how each camp season gets evaluated? Then, you might be interested in joining the Program Committee.

The Program Committee is responsible for providing guidance and setting priorities for the camp program. The Committee primarily does this through the CRS Curriculum Document, which serves as a guide for the implementation of the camp program year after year. Members of the Program Committee include a variety of educators, former counselors, and other alumni who are interested in getting more involved in the ins and outs of camp programming.

Each year, the Committee reviews what aspects of the previous year’s camp season worked well and provides suggestions on how best to improve for the upcoming summer. These discussions are based on feedback from counselors and staff, as well as on first-hand observation of the camp program by Committee members who spend a few days at camp each summer on the Visit Team. The Visit Team collects campers surveys and interviews a variety of campers and staff members to learn more about how the goals of camp are being implemented each year.

The Program Committee is also interested in more formal research and development through the pre and post camper surveys, which have been conducted each year since 2011. The results of these surveys help us track and evaluate the impact of our experiential learning model for campers. We hope to publish the findings of our research in the future.

In 2016, we welcomed Bianca Rey (‘07, ‘12), Jose Javier Saenz Crespo (‘01, ‘02, ‘12, ‘13), and Torben Smidt Hansen (‘75) to the Program Committee. If you are interested in joining the Program Committee, please contact us!

Registration open for 2017 CRS Alumni Reunion

Come back to camp for the 2017 Alumni Reunion, July 21st -July 23rd. This is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with alumni, LAJF Staff and the Board of Directors.

Reunion leaders are hard at work connecting with our major anniversary years. We are expecting major turnouts for these significant milestones. If you attended Camp in one of these years please use code REUNION2017 for complimentary admission.

CRS 1967: Celebrating 50 years

CRS 1977: Celebrating 40 years

CRS 1987: Celebrating 30 years

CRS 1992: Celebrating 25 years

CRS 1997: Celebrating 20 years

CRS 2007: Celebrating 10 years

CRS 2012: Celebrating 5 years


The reunion occurs between our two Camp sessions allowing our alumni to step back in time and be campers again. Relive your favorite activities, connect with old friends and make new ones. You can even sleep on tent hill with your campmates or your whole family.

On Friday evening, join us in the Campers Lounge for cocktails, conversation and hors d'oeuvres followed by dinner and game night in the Dining Hall. On Saturday participate in the Board of Directors meeting, followed by Libby and Mandy Day lunch and activities. In the afternoon you can join an Instruction or Project. Saturday evening, stay for dinner and alumni council. On Sunday after breakfast participate in an alumni community meeting and break out for off-campus activities at a local golf-course, vineyard or exploring Rhinebeck.

Student and Committee Member discounts

20% Discount for active committee members. Use code COMM2017 when registering to redeem your discount if you are currently serving on a committee.

50% Discount for all full-time students! If students use the discount code, they will be asked to volunteer 3 hours of their time at the reunion. Use code STU2017 when registering to redeem your discount.  

Camp season staff will receive either a free individual package or meals only package. Use code STAFF2017 when registering.

No one will be turned away if they cannot afford reunion. Please email Helene at hmattera@lajf.org can elyem’s address be used? or an alias?

Cannot attend the reunion but wish to join in the celebration? You can make a donation here.

A conversation with Paula Souverijn-Eisenberg (CRS ‘95,’96, ‘98), Administrative Officer at the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and member of the LAJF Board of Directors

Paula (CRS ‘95, ‘96, ‘98) first joined Camp Rising Sun as a counselor in 1995, and has since spent several summers as staff and a visitor, and is now a member of  the LAJF Board of Directors. She currently is the Administrative Officer  of the Hague Branch of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT). Inna Kuvich (CRS ‘01,’02, ‘06) chatted with her about the work of the UN, the impact CRS has had in her life and her work at the Board of Directors.

Inna Kuvich: What do you do now and how did you get there?

Paula Souverijn-Eisenberg: I am theAdministrative Officer at the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which is a successor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. We have  branch in the Hague which deals with cases related to the genocide in the former Yugoslavia and a Branch in Tanzania which deals with cases related to the Rwandan genocide. It is one of the few international criminal tribunals in the world, and I am very happy to be part of this. For victims as well as our international justice at large, it is incredibly important to ensure that justice is served where it is due, even if it takes decades.  

I started working for the UN 13 years ago in the area of gender, and quickly moved to knowledge management and best practices in the New York UN headquarters’ Department of Peacekeeping Operations. I then went to Sudan to do peacekeeping work in the field for 2 years. There I became interested in how those big missions are managed, specifically from a support side, how logistics work. It is a big puzzle that really interest me. Back again in NY HQ, I joinedthe Department of Field Support where our work involved ensuring the timely availability of human and financial resources, as well as logistical matters such as rations, accommodation, aviation, troops movements, etc. for peacekeeping missions.

Inna: How did you get interested in this type of work and what was the first job that got you to the UN:

Paula: I have always had a very strong interest in developing countries. I wanted to become a doctor and join Doctors Without Borders, but med school was not in the cards. I studied Development Studies, with a focus on man-made disasters, linking relief and development, from emergency aid towards more sustainable development. How can you move away from an emergency situation towards a more sustainable one? Out of this interest, during my studies I conducted research in the Tamil region of Sri Lanka, spent some time in Somalia and Nairobi doing research for my masters thesis, and also interned at the UN HQ in NYC.

During my university studies I worked at Camp Rising Sun and met Ian Eisenberg, who is now my husband, and moved to NYC after graduation. I spent some time working in different fields, volunteering for the Red Cross after 9/11 and heading the leadership department of a small NGO working with people with disabilities, when I was told about a UN position in a gender related project which I applied to and got.

Inna: Can you give an example about a mission for the UN?

Paula: It depends on what part of the UN we are speaking about and it depends on the mandate by the UN Security Council. UN Peacekeeping missions today include:  DRC, Central African Republic, Darfur, South Sudan, Haiti, Afghanistan, couple in Middle east, among others. They can cover  anything from the really traditional monitoring of ceasefire agreement like in Cyprus, Kashmere or the Golan Heights. And then other much more active ones in war zones, like in Congo or South Sudan, where the mission actively contributes to making peace, not just keeping peace.

In short a mission is a combination of a military component, a police component and civilian component. The civilian component includes substantive functions (political affairs, humanitarian help) and a support side (administration, logistics, and just about everything to make sure that the military, the police and the substantive civil component have the means to carry out their work).

Inna: Why do you find most inspiring about what you do?

Paula: There are two basic things that I love about my job. On the practical level, sorting out logistics and everything that is needed to support a UN entity is a big puzzle, we keep a million balls in the air at the same time, which I find very exciting. But at a much higher level, what I do contributes to something that I find valuable. An international Tribunal is an organization that brings justice and that purposefulness really drives me.

Inna: How does the current political climate impact your work?

Paula: Since the Former Yugoslavia and the Rwanda tribunals have been around for 20 years, and they have a solid mandate that we implement, the current political climate does not immediately affect my daily work. However, it brings a whole lot of questions at other levels: will the US stay in the UN? Will it pay its dues? Will the UN be undermined?  

Another aspect is the current political climate in Europe. See the refugee crisis, for instance. Many of the people arriving in Europe come from countries where the UN works. We must understand the circumstances that are making people flee. While I understand to some extent some of the frustrations feeding dislike of refugees, there seems to be very little understanding by many in Europe or the US of the situation that causes people flee. I don’t understand how we can be so hard refusing entry to people who are fleeing war.

In the case of Syria, one could imagine that acts committed there could very easily qualify for an international tribunal, but this would have to be agreed upon by the Security Council and would likely be vetoed by 1 or more of its permanent members, so it is not very likely.

Inna: How has your experience at Camp Rising Sun shaped your worldview?

My experience has been different to that of campers, given that when I started working there, I had already chosen my field of studies and was already at university at the time. However, I remember very clearly that in 1996 we visited Washington DC and the World Bank. I remember holding very strong opinions, and some of the campers disagreed with me in a discussion we were having, which was one of the first times I realised that views held by others are equally valid. This made me open my mind. I was initially taken aback, but in hindsight I was very impressed by the knowledge these campers had and their ability to articulate and defend their arguments. It was a good lesson for me to accept and truly internalise that there are other points of view out there.

Inna: Why is Camp Rising Sun important today?

Paula: I just find the Camp Rising Sun community very inspiring. Especially in today’s political climate, irrespective of where we stand in the political spectrum, the atmosphere has become very polarised, and very crude and rude. Where in the past getting a Palestinian and an Israeli camper together was a big achievement, now the challenge is also getting campers from different political backgrounds to foster this understanding and promote communication at a young age.

It is also becoming harder for campers from certain nationalities to enter the US, and the harder it becomes the more important our mission becomes.

I believe that humanity is not intrinsically bad, and that Camp Rising Sun contributes to making the world a better place, in some way. Times are grim today but we need to keep pushing forward, and bringing different people together is a way to do so.

Inna: Why did you join the Board of Directors and the  New York and Dutch Alumni Associations?

Paula: Firstly, I love, respect and desire to see LAJF succeed for many generations to come. I want LAJF and CRS to live a healthy and long life. I’d love my kids to be legacy campers in 2025 and 2027. I wanted to take a more active role and contribute to the very interesting discussions that are going on about the future of Camp Rising Sun. On the other hand, being a board member contributes to my own professional development. I have been on the Boards of small Dutch NGOs, but never of  a US or international organization.

Also, it is important for me to highlight that my only CRS campus has been Red Hook, and that I have a lot of love for that campus. That was my first camp, I spent 3 summers there, met my husband there, I was proposed to in the Council Ring at Red Hook. That campus is important to me, as it is to many of our alumni. That’s why the Board’s strategic plan, including its commitment to try to re-open RH, is important. We also have to be realistic though. Contributions will have to significantly increase. It’s good to take a breather to assess the possibilities available to us. 

Inna: What is the most important value that Camp Rising sun has given you?

Being open to other points of view. And the importance of getting people of different points of view together, to break out of our bubbles. It is hard to force ourselves to be open irrespective of which side we stand on. The opportunity to be amongst a group of people from different backgrounds is incredible.


There is a discussion about careers at the UN in the Camp Rising Sun alumni forum that you can contribute to here.

If you found this conversation interesting and would like to be interviewed or interview another CRS alumnus/a, let us know. We would love to hear from you. 

Camp Rising Sun Selection Under Way Around the Globe

Camp Rising Sun alumni associations around the world are busy selecting campers for the 2017 season. As to be expected, each selection region has its own culture which flavors the approach to identifying the best and brightest. Whether through interviews, group activities, personal videos, sample Instructions or portfolios, Camper selection is a fun way to stay locally engaged. Just this weekend I had the pleasure of joining 30 New York alumni to meet 50 applicants. This week the Israeli Alumni Association describes their rigorous method lasting three rounds to identify the next lucky teenagers.

By: Klil Karmon and the entire Israeli selections team of 2017

In the last few years we have improved and developed our method of selection to the the final formula as it stands today.

Each year we focus on a different region in Israel, where we address the schools and request each to recommend boys and girls that may fit at Camp Rising Sun. Each candidate receives an invitation by us that tells him/ her about camp. The first step is filling out a nomination form that includes general information but also long answer questions about diverse topics such as community service, ethical dilemmas, world affairs, etc. Also, each of them is requested to answer a few question about a short story we send him/her. In addition, each candidate is to send reference forms from two different people that know him/ her well.


The candidate kits (forms, references) are sent back to us and then reviewed by the selection team for this year. Each year, we ask our alumni to take part in the process and whoever is willing to is welcomed. The selection team reads the candidate application and decides who will continue with us to the first selection day (Semi- finals).


Selection in 2017

This year we had one semi-final with about 20 participants from both genders. Throughout the day we organized different activities, discussions and other methods that help the selections team to get to know the candidates better. At the end of the day, we have an interview with each candidate for last minute impression, questions that arose during the day etc. From each one of the semi- finals we picked 4 girls and 4 boys that we wish to know better through the last and final selection day.


The 8 candidates that are invited to the final selection day are asked to prepare a 15-minute long instruction on a topic of their choice, advised to chose something personal they have special interest with. As guidance, each is assigned with an alumnus to be in touch with - for planning and developing the instruction (to consult with, get feedback from, etc. and also for us alumni to get to know the candidate better). 


Finally, at the final selection day, most of the day is dedicated to the candidates' instructions, in which everyone (even the selection team) is participating. Between the instructions, a few activities are run by the selection team. At last, all candidates go through another interview with the team. Then, comes the most difficult part of the process - deciding which two of these amazing candidates will be the ones to go to camp...


Creating a welcoming atmosphere for all

Throughout the selection days and the entire selection, we try to have a welcoming and supportive atmosphere, that will allow the candidates to be themselves and feel comfortable - Just like at camp. Moreover, the wide range of activities and the possibility of choices for the instructions gives each one of the candidates the opportunity to show her/ his strengths, which makes it a very diverse and interesting process. Another reason for this selection process is that we want to make this a learning opportunity for everyone involved, not just the two selected candidates. Therefore, we encourage everyone to continue being a leader in their community, take initiative and effect his environment. 

A letter from George Monk's (CRS '30s, '40s) family

Recently, the daughter and son of George Monk, CRS alumnus from the 1930’s, sent us a very touching letter that we wish to share with the community. The letter is a reminder of Camp Rising Sun’s long lasting impact. The action of one boy attending Camp in 1932 caused a ripple affect, which continues to this day, to impact the lives of his family. The Monk family included with the letter a donation in honor of Camp’s “values that made such an important difference in his life as well as ours.”

What follows is an excerpt of the letter we received:

"Our father, George Monk, was a camper at Camp Rising Sun in the early 1930's and a counselor at the camp in the early 1940's. He was also active in the CRS Alumni Association through the early 50's. We have very clear memories of visiting him at camp when he was a counselor and we were very young children and of going to camp for Alumni weekends when we were older, riding once or twice in Freddy Jonas's chauffeur-driven Cadillac.

Our father often spoke of "Camp" as one of the transformative experiences of his youth. He frequently recalled specific events and people, and how diverse and stimulating they were. Certainly, Camp was one of the strongest and most positive influences in this period of his life. It might even be said that his experiences of Camp became part of our family lore and history to such an extent that it had its effects upon us, especially at times such as the beginning of summer vacation when we were about nine and ten years old and he informed us that we would be studying German during the summer. As support for such a plan, he cited projects the campers had to complete when he was at Rising Sun. "Even though summer is a time for fun, one should always spend some time improving oneself," he would say.

On March 30, 2016 we celebrated the one-hundredth anniversary of our father's birth. He died at age 94 in 2010. It pleases us greatly to make a gift to Camp Rising Sun at this time to commemorate his long and fruitful life, to support the work the camp does, and to honor its values that made such an important difference in his life as well as ours. To this end, please find our enclosed donation. We wish you and the camp the best of luck.

Thank you,

Ena Monk & Stephen Monk

Meet the Alumni Council

It has been a little over a year since the Alumni Council was reestablished. The council has already served as a platform for many productive discussions about challenges in selection, changes to the program, local alumni engagement, and many other important topics! We hope for many more in the future!

Working in conjunction with the Alumni Relations Committee, the council is dedicated to facilitating conversations between the alumni community and LAJF.  We hope that over time, the Council will become a platform for receiving and sharing feedback, ensuring a close relation between our alumni and LAJF and the camp program.

On the advice of the Ad Hoc Governance Committee, the recommendation was made to select a full-voting member of the Board of Directors, further ensuring a close relation between alumni community and the management of the foundation.

If you, or anyone from your local association would like to join the Alumni Council, please feel free to contact Mads Nissen (mnissen@lajf.org) or Andrea Alexander (aalexander83@gmail.com), council chair.


A conversation with Larry Norden '87

Blog by Joseph Riddle '87,'88,'95,'97, current Vice-President of the Board. 

Larry Norden '87

Larry Norden '87

I attended camp with Larry Norden, now the Deputy Director for Democracy Programs at the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve the US’ systems of democracy and justice. We spoke on November 9th, just one day after the US election sent shockwaves through the world of nonprofits advocating for equality. Just as the mission of Rising Sun is critical in this political climate, so is the work of advocates like Larry. His message couldn’t be more timely.

Joseph Riddle '87: Hi Larry, it’s great to speak with you!

Larry Norden: Thanks Joe, it’s great to talk to you, too. I apologize if I’m a bit bleary today. I did election protection work yesterday, taking calls from people having problems voting. I don’t remember ever having so many voters say they were afraid, and reporting visible signs of voter intimidation.

JR: Horrible! But I’m glad to know that people like you are on the case. Please tell the CRS community (and me) a bit about your professional background.

LN: When I graduated from Law School, I worked in litigation for a big firm for about 5 years. I didn’t find corporate law work fulfilling, and I found myself eventually gravitating to policy and social justice issues -- coming at it from the legal side, given my training.

For 11 years, I’ve worked with the Brennan Center. I’ve spent the last 6 running our money and politics team. We look at the role of money in the US political system, with a specific eye on campaign finance reform. My group also handles our voting rights work, which includes studying the impact of voting technology, and policies that impact the right to vote in the US. For our voting rights work, in addition to supervising, my role includes being a public advocate for fairness and reform. That means frequent trips to DC, when I’m lobbying on Capitol Hill, and occasionally it means getting quoted in the press.

At Brennan, our overarching value and goal is to increase participation in the political process. We see access to legal voting as a pillar of strengthening our democratic institutions. We write policy briefs, assist with language for crafting bills, study issues that impact voting behavior... And sometimes we bring lawsuits, to advocate for fairness.

JR: Tell me a bit more about that. I’ve seen stories in the news, about changes in voting laws that have made it more difficult for certain groups to vote. What happened to cause that, and what’s been the impact?

LN: The most recent triggering event is that in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key  provision of the Voting Rights Act: Specifically, it struck down the need -- that had existed since 1965 -- for certain southern states and some other jurisdictions to seek permission from the Department of Justice in order to alter voting rights laws. This was in response to existing laws in those states that were intended to exclude black citizens from the voting process.

As you can imagine, striking those provisions was a controversial move. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg likened it to walking through a rainstorm with an umbrella, and then tossing it because you weren’t getting wet. In fact, a number of states including Texas and North Carolina almost immediately passed laws that make it more difficult to vote, particularly for young people and people of color.

The recent decline in black participation in voting in North Carolina may well be linked to these new laws. I would not say, based on what we know, that it changed the results of the presidential election in that state, but it certainly had an impact.

There seems to be a growing awareness in the lower courts about what’s happening. Texas’ recent law restricting voting was found illegal, as were some of the provisions of North Carolina’s law. Overall, I’m hopeful. I think we’re successfully making the case that these laws are being passed with discriminatory intent.

JR: Has your team at the Brennan Center been involved in any of these suits?

LN: We have been. We represented voters and voting rights groups in the Texas lawsuit. We also brought a suit in Florida that made quite a bit of press -- the one that forced Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, to keep early voting open after a hurricane swept through that state in the final days of its early voting period.

JR: What is your outlook on voting rights in the US, with the incoming Trump administration?

LN: Well, it’s probably not good news. If Trump fulfills his promise to appoint justices in the mold of the recently-deceased Antonin Scalia, it could mean that suits claiming voter discrimination will face skepticism from the outset.

That said, there is a question about whether center-conservative justices like Roberts, who voted to strike down the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, under the rationale that discrimination was no longer a problem, will be influenced by more recent rulings from the lower courts. In the Shelby case, Roberts said it’s unfair to accuse these states of this kind of discrimination without evidence. Will he be persuaded by evidence that he was wrong?

I also hope Congress and the states will work to modernize our voting system. Old machines need to be replaced.  We’re facing a crisis as computerized systems around the country reach the end of their projected lifespans.  And there is no good (non-partisan) reason not to make registration automatic, so that everyone who is qualified is registered and can vote on Election Day if they want to do so.  Alaska, California, Connecticuit, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia have passed laws that should make registration automatic, and that should make voting much easier for everyone.

On campaign finance laws, during the Scalia era the justices were very divided on the role of money in politics. In Citizens United, which permitted unlimited political spending from corporations, they made a lot assumptions that turned out not to be true. For example, they assumed we would know the source of most campaign money, which would act as a check on corruption. That’s turned out not to be true. Hundreds of millions of dollars are unaccounted for in the recent election. The justices acted as if they were unleashing what they called “independent” spending, which somehow wouldn’t have a corrupting influence on office holders, interpreting donations as a form of speech. (Campaign spending as a form of speech goes back to Buckley, in the 70s. The justices said then: “As long as you’re making a contribution to a group, and not a candidate, it can’t be corrupting.” Again, this has turned out not to be true.)

There are cases working their way through the courts now, of alleged corruption; donors giving money to SuperPACs at the direction of candidates, with the intent to buy influence. So again there’s a question: will Roberts and others be persuaded by the new evidence?

JR: As I said before -- it’s so heartening for me to know that people like you are in there, fighting the good fight. Before we go, can you tell me a bit about how Camp Rising Sun shaped your worldview?

LN: Camp was such a warm, welcoming place with a lot of smart people interested in discussing ideas. For me it was a supportive space -- sometimes combative, but supportive underneath that. Interacting with people from all over the world while I was still a teenager absolutely impacted my outlook. In my 20s, working for a big law firm and feeling unfulfilled, it influenced my need to see more of the world. I moved first to Ireland and then South Africa.

I don’t know if Camp impacted my career directly, but I have a clear recollection of an Instruction Jyrki Kallio gave, talking about political science and democracy. Obviously if I remember it that clearly, it must have had an impact on me!

In some ways the work I’m engaged in now reminds me a bit of that spirit. The problems are real, but at least I’m with smart people, working on issues that matter, hopeful that we can continue to contribute in a small, positive way to things that matter.