Aaaaaaah… summer camp; a time of brief but intense friendships, exploration, excellent snacks, and crazy activities. Most of us have one memory or another of what it was like to be a kid in, or an “adult” leading a camp. It’s part of what makes summer summer. Without it parents everywhere would go insane surrounded by children constantly asking for something to do. Enter the 2017 Art Ed Social Justice Camp! Here to save your sanity and supply meaningful art instruction to your cabin confined youngsters.
All jokes aside, this has been an incredible experience. We had a comfortable student-to-teacher ratio, so no instructor was ever overwhelmed by the demands of all the students at once (a luxury we will soon come to miss with student teaching coming up fast in the fall). The kids were active participants, eager to explore social justice topics that are important to them. Many chose to speak out against animal abuse, creating masks inspired by the Guerrilla Girls to represent dogs forced to fight. Others passionately asserted their voices as women; powerful, independent, and full of original ideas worth recognition. There was never a day, activity, or moment where I questioned the validity of our instruction. There was never a day, activity, or moment where I thought the kids weren’t growing, challenging, or enjoying themselves.
In part, I think providing them with the option of choice lent itself largely to our success. In the instruction process, most of us presented a theme and let the kids choose between two activities that discussed the theme. If they wanted to engage with both activities, they could. If they wanted to spend more time developing one idea, they had this option as well. This freedom, I believe, is the reason we got such amazing results. I was continually surprised by the versatility, creativity, and innovation these kids demonstrated with their projects. AND THEY WERE EXCITED TO BE MAKING THEM! It was incredible. It almost made waking up at 5:30 in the morning for four days in a row worth it! (That’s a joke, obviously it was worth it).
I’m thankful to have been a part of this camp, to have had this opportunity to begin with. In one short week I’ve learned a LOT working with these kids. Ms. B. and Sara have been the best mentors and support we could have possibly asked for (and they definitely saved us during a few awkward points more than once). Because of this experience I feel confident heading into student teaching. I’m excited to see what my colleagues and I come up with, and I’m less fearful of the mistakes I know I’ll make as a baby teacher. It’s time to get cracking!