The Encampment for Citizenship (EFC) is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian organization that conducts residential summer programs with year-round follow-up for young people of widely diverse backgrounds and nations. The Encampment program brings youth together to form a self-governing community, learn to think critically about pressing social and political issues, and become empowered to take action. EFC was founded in 1946 by Algernon D. Black, a leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, and Alice K. Pollitzer, a prominent civic leader. The program was sponsored by the American Ethical Union and its affiliated societies, in particular the New York Ethical Culture Society. The first Encampment was held at the Fieldston School.
EFC provides youth with a compelling experience in democratic living, with emphasis on critical thinking and social action. Through this transformative experience, young people become more informed and sensitive about the key issues of our time and committed to active citizenship and involvement in their community as justice seekers.
The camp program's aim is, according to the society, for "young adults of many religious, racial, social and national backgrounds" to learn "the principles and techniques of citizenship in a liberal democracy through lived experience." Campers would establish their own camp government and be guided toward socio-political activism, a sense of civic responsibility, and volunteerism — all in a context of tolerance and diversity.
Eleanor Roosevelt, a long-time member of the society's board of directors, was an early supporter of the program and routinely hosted encampment workshops at her Hyde Park estate. When the program was attacked as "socialistic" by McCarthyite forces in the early 1950s, Roosevelt vigorously defended it. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was a later supporter.