Camp Kamala launches across Iowa



2020 Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris and her campaign recently launched a Camp Kamala organizing training program in an effort to educate college students at the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Iowa, Des Moines Area Community College and Drake University about how political organization works in Iowa as compared to other states.


U.S. Senator Kamala Harris is no stranger to the UNI campus, having been a guest at an early voting rally hosted by the Northern Iowa Democrats last October.

Now, the current California senator has announced her candidacy for president, and her campaign team is returning to UNI, as well as to four other Iowa colleges, to launch their Camp Kamala organizing training program for students and young Iowans.

Between April 13-16, one-night camps will be held at Iowa State, the University of Iowa, Drake, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and here at UNI. The UNI camp will take place on Thursday, April 18, from 4-7 p.m. (location to be determined).

Miryam Lipper, Kamala Harris Iowa communications director, said that one of the main barriers to political involvement is a lack of understanding of how the process works, especially the caucus procedure. To combat this, she said, the training camps will be centered around the caucus process and the principles of political organization.

“It’s really about teaching them about organizing generally, and learning about Kamala in case she is the candidate they end up being interested in,” she said. “This is a way to make sure that they know a little bit about Kamala, a lot about the caucus, a lot about organizing, and can go from there.”

At each camp, attendees will sit in on trainings with campaign staff to learn about the caucus process and about how political organizing works in Iowa as compared to other states. The goal, said Lipper, is for students to be able to take what they learn and apply it as organizational leaders in their own communities.

“The way to best organize any group of people is for someone they know and trust to be the person who’s advocating on behalf of someone,” she said, “versus the campaign just always coming to people and trying to tell them about Kamala, or whatever issue they’re talking about.”

The timing of the camps is critical, according to Lipper, since many students will soon be leaving college campuses to return home for the summer months.

“If we didn’t get students organized, if we didn’t teach them about Kamala and teach them about the caucus in general before they headed home for the summer, then we were going to miss out on a huge opportunity,” she said.

“Our campaign is working to organize young Iowans who are the future of the country,” Will Dubbs, Kamala Harris Iowa State Director, said in a March 28 announcement of the Camp Kamala program. “I am proud that we will be able to utilize the excitement around Kamala’s campaign heading into the critical summer months.”

One of those young Iowans is elementary education major Danielle Templeton, recruitment director for the Northern Iowa Democrats, the organization sponsoring the Camp Kamala event here at UNI. Templeton said that the skills that the program offers attendees are “widely applicable.”

“What I think is a great opportunity about this event is that Kamala’s campaign approached us about teaching organizing skills in general,” said Templeton. “For people who want to learn about electoral politics and how to work on campaigns, this can be an entry point for people who maybe voted in 2018 and want to do more leading into the caucuses.”

In addition to information about the caucus process itself, Camp Kamala attendees will also hear from Iowans who are already supporting Harris, as well as be able to speak with campaign team members about the issues motivating the Harris campaign.

“[Students] have a voice that needs to be heard, and the issues that are being discussed in this election — climate change, student loan debt — are really issues that they are going to have to deal with more than anyone else,” Lipper said.

Students who are interested in attending should apply at The application closes on April 13 and participants will be accepted on a rolling basis. For students who are unable to attend the camps, Lipper recommended visiting for a list of campaign events, which will be posted on a rolling basis and updated frequently.

Beyond merely recruiting workers and votes for Harris, the campaign hopes that the Camp Kamala program will help students recognize the importance of political involvement and give them the tools to be involved.

“Students and young people in Iowa are going to play a critical organizing role in the caucuses,” Senator Harris said in the March 28 announcement.

“Political activism on college campuses is a critical part of this caucus process,” Lipper said. “Students have been speaking up over the past couple of years in really unique ways. College students are going to have a huge role in the election and their voice matters.”