Summer Camp Art
During the summer I work at a day camp for children ages 2-16 from New York City, Westchester, Rockland and New Jersey. I teach art for the “upper” camp which consists of ages 8 through 16. My classroom environment during the summer is so different from the school year. It is a change of pace, ages, materials, classroom management and expectations.
The environment for my summer art cabin is fast paced, filled with high expectations and and organized chaos. The camp requires each child to go home with a finished art project every Friday. My students come to art twice a week for about 25 minutes each class. The project expectations set by the camp are disproportionately set for the amount of time and materials I have for my students. Because of this my classroom management during the summer has to be airtight. Early in the summer students get reminded of classroom layout, materials, expectations, behavior and overview. Each lesson is planned and students always know that projects go home on fridays. We have some of the quickest “10 second tidies” because we work until the last minute to get the most out of the time.
My students come from all different areas of New York City, Westchester County, Rockland County, and New Jersey. My students are ages 8-16. They come in classes of 26. They are divided into “Inter girls 1 (ages 8/9)” “Inter girls 2&3 (ages 10/11)” “Senior girls 1(age 12)” Senior girls 2 (age 13)” and “teens ages 14-16)”. The students call me “Melissa” rather than “Ms. Akey” in this setting and they know I am an art teacher during the school year as well. Most of my students are female. The teens are my only class with both boys and girls.
Some of my positives to the summer art classes are that all the students sign up to come to art classes so they all want to be there. Because of this they are willing to work hard and prepare to have their projects ready for Friday. For me, the entire art program layout needs to be reevaluated. It kills me that my students are pressured to produce a project by such a short time frame. My philosophy is that the process of artmaking is more important than the product. The owners of the camp believe that the product is the most important and thats the only measure of what is happening in the art room. You (all of you reading this blog) and I both know that is ridiculous. I wish my students had the ability to continuously work on projects and techniques that they enjoy and get to enjoy their summer. I wish it was more relaxed and they spent the summer working on skills they want to improve or explore. My students are so good though. They are curious, hardworking and so so creative. Once I give them the main idea of the project I let them make as many of their own artistic decisions as possible and they are always so well done and thought out.
The daily routine of camp follows an 8 period daily schedule. The camp day takes place from 9:30-3:30pm. Students have 7 different periods of art, music, swimming, sports, drama, nature and outdoor adventure and a lunch period. I typically teach 4 studio classes, 2 knitting classes and a period of set design for the camp musical a day along with a lunch period.
The difference in my summer and school year environments are always a challenge and makes me appreciate the pros to each environment and the challenges I face with the cons are always brushing up my skills and ability to think on my feet.