Founders Blog - Summer Camp

Today I heard someone on the radio refer to the present time as “late summer.” I refuse to accept that! I corrected her, out loud (in my car alone), with a vehement, “midsummer!” I know it is midsummer because we’ve just finished our three summer camps for the year and we are heading into the month of August – time for refreshing the space, taking inventory of supplies, finishing up the details for the new curriculum for the coming year’s programs, and preparing for our fall fundraiser.

I’m so happy to say that we’re doing all this as we bask in the joyful memories of three amazingly successful summer camps! 

Our first camp was “A Place at the Table” for teens. It was a tumultuous week full of discussion, struggle, growth, art-making, and really good food. During the week our teen campers, or “workshoppers” created various projects as they explored the impact of discrimination on our world. One highlight was the sharing of individual stories of personal experiences with discrimination that our teens then turned into mash-up video TV news stories. Each day we were joined by a local chef who guided us through preparing healthy food; our teen artists created beautiful table settings each day, and each day they cleaned it all up (all important parts of the process of learning to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions in today’s world – in our places at society’s table). The culmination of the week came as our teen artists contemplated their reaction and response, as a group, to Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The artists broke up into five groups and explored the issues of LGBT rights, religious freedom, body image, racism, and women’s rights. I was honored to work with these young people as they struggled through the very heart of the matter, asking “how can each of us take our place at society’s table in an honorable and creative way?”

Photography by Juliana Molina

Our second camp, “The Artist and the Landscape” was an amazing journey through issues of landscape, the environment, nature, ecology, and how art can be used to create more awareness to help our environment. Our camp teacher was Bonnie Parry and, as always, the kids loved “Miss Bonnie” The highlight of the week was a fieldtrip to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens where the kids were mesmerized by the wildlife – frogs, minnows, a great blue heron, and turtles! I think we watched the minnows “hunting” for smaller fishes for nearly twenty minutes! I think the only reason we’re not still there is because there was art to be made!!! The kids created a number of artworks, including a gorgeous yarn bombing of a nearby tree on Rhode Island Avenue. The landscape paintings they created were tremendous opportunities for all of us to peer into the creative minds of our next generation. They know so much more than we give them credit for knowing…

Photography by Juliana Molina

Our third camp “Me and the World” took our youngest campers on a journey through the elements.  They began the week planning a beautiful mural in which they proclaim “Art + Love = Earth” and “Art is important for Everyone!” Wise youngsters, wouldn’t you say? Each day the young artists explored a different element – sun, wind, earth, and water. At the end of the week they considered their own places in the context of these elements. They created several paintings and beautiful sculptures of the sun. It was a prolific week! Their teachers were Miss Bonnie and Miss Juliana. I don’t know who had more fun (or who was more happily exhausted at the end of each day) – the teachers or the kids! 

Photography by Juliana Molina

I could go on and on about the work that each of these young artists created over the course of these three weeks. Instead, I’ll let their work do the talking. I hope you’ll enjoy these photos and we look forward to a summer of expanded camps next year!

Barbara Johnson,
Founder and Executive Director
Art Works Now