This week was our second (and final) week of Camp Creativity for the summer! Once again, I was the counselor for the oldest group (10-12 years old, and all girls this time), and I had a fantastic time bonding with my campers and helping them out with their art projects throughout the week. My campers and I had a blast together during ceramics, felting, drawing, painting, dancing, film-making, and acting!
Trying new things is an essential part of living, learning, and growing, and it’s what I love most about summer camps, especially Camp Creativity. It warmed my heart to hear some campers say how excited they were to finish their projects when they got home and to start new ones. Even I got to try something new this week! Despite my history with arts & crafts and the dramatically large collection of spare yarn, I had never tried my hand at felting before this week. I loved it! Even as a counselor, I still got to learn a new skill with my campers and pick up another crafty hobby.
Something I noticed, though, that I think is important when considering youth-focused arts advocacy, is the difference between individual projects and team-based activities. Our mornings were focused on the visual arts, which meant that the girls had a lot of chances to work with their own ideas and projects around each other, but never having to compromise their own vision. In the afternoon, after they were tired from swimming in the hot sun, the activities were more performance and teamwork-based, which became rather difficult. These brilliant and creative campers ran into some tension that I think a lot of adults have a hard time navigating, too. None of them wanted to give up on their own ideas to come up with something as a group. Eventually, with some deep breaths and a little bit of counselor intervention, my group came up with some great theatrical performances and two really awesome stop motion animation videos.
Teamwork is a valuable skill, and I think it’s sometimes overlooked in the arts. With so much focus on “the artist” as an individual, we forget how much teamwork goes into any kind of performance. This goes for the visual arts world, too! Any performance or piece of artwork requires the hard work and collaboration of several people in order to see the light of day. Think about all the sound technicians, stage hands, business partners, and family members that contribute to a work of art you’ve seen recently. I’m so glad that we were teaching these young artists about the importance of teamwork at the same time that we were giving them an opportunity to try new things.