We're rolling out the first summer season of Camp Contemporary -- see what campers and families can expect
Providing quality arts experiences for kids, particularly through Camp Contemporary, has long been a cornerstone for your arts center. With a typical summer including an average of 50 camps across 10 weeks, literally thousands of metro-area learners have passed through Oklahoma Contemporary's studio classrooms over the last 30 years.
We’ve had campers who return as studio assistants and then grow into teaching artists. Parents tell stories about how their kids blossom at DJ camp. How they make long-lasting friendships, find new creative niches, discover a love of artistic experimentation or just have a great time getting messy.
In June 2021, we’ll open our first round of Camp Contemporary’s summer session in the new building, something Youth and Family Manager Christine Gibson has literally been planning for years. COVID caused a cancelation of more than 50 camps in the summer of 2020, and Christine is excited to finally debut some of those – and launch many, many more – starting June 1.
Some of those camps are narrowly focused, but in others, creative kids will get to tackle all kinds of different projects. Depending on which camp they are enrolled in, they can get a little bit of a lot of disciplines, or they can do a deep dive into a particular subject.
Member registration opened Monday to great fanfare. (Members get both 10 percent off camp tuition and to register a week before the general public.) More than 33 percent of our camp spots – 161 of 480 – sold within the first 24 hours. Two camps sold out completely. (Membership does have its privileges.)
As we head into the public registration period, opening this Monday, April 12, we sat down with Christine to discuss what this summer means and what campers and parents can expect when they arrive.
After years of planning and another year of COVID delays, how does it feel to finally have a full summer lineup for Camp Contemporary?
It’s so exciting. This is why we put in all the hours, the planning, the budgets, the building materials. Everything has been for this. Education is at the center of what Oklahoma Contemporary does. A full lineup of camps has always been part of the plan, not just for Youth and Family, but for the organization. We just had to push that plan back another year, because of COVID.
Having 48 camps on tap feels awesome. I’m so psyched that they’re going so fast and that people have responded really well so far to the lineup.
We really tried to create the broadest camp offerings we possibly could. I’m looking for a good variety of camps, across the age groups, but also some very specific, unique topics.
I do a ton of research, and I hand-pick instructors for each camp. There are some people who are only here for one week, because they’re really good in their field – and that’s what I want. We pinpoint artists who have the specific talents and skills we need for each camp.
We also want camps that go to roots. Some people just love to do sculpture and ceramics – not everyone wants to work in text-based arts. Some campers really want to put brush to paper.
Also front and center – a contemporary artist theme and thinking is very important. We try to pull from artists we have on view as much as possible, but there are also artists whose work instructors are inspired by. And then that filters into the camps they teach.
What are some highlights of the summer 2021 offerings?
One I’m super excited about that we’ve never been able to do before is the Skateboard Design and Creation camp. We could not do that in the previous building, because we didn’t have the tools and the workshop that we have now.
Another one that would’ve been difficult to do in the old space is Natural Dyeing camp. Now that we have the Fiber Arts Studio, we have a specific space just to do dyeing and exploring fabrics. This one will be really earth-based, so campers will be doing everything from making paint out of flowers to dyeing with food materials, like beets. So that’s a very different option.
A camp that I’ve been looking forward to for years, since I first talked to this instructor, has been the Inflatable Paintings camp, by Katelynn Knick. That’s going to be so interesting and very “contemporary art” based.
Another one that we’re trying out and haven’t done before is a jewelry-designing camp. Campers will be making a new kind of piece almost every day, out of polymer clay, fiber and wire.
We’ll have a Projection Dancing camp, taught by Josh Okpara, held in our gorgeous Dance Studio. It’s one of our “powered by Google” camps, and it’ll be new for us, too. Campers will learn how to design a projection map and to create a choreographed dance to the feel of the projection.
We’re also excited to work with Reckless Abandonment Studios on an stop-motion animation camp.
For littles, Black Light Rainbow is going to be really magical – just seeing what these kiddos can do with black light paint and black light everything.
Though most of the camps will be in person, we will have a couple of digital camps, one at the beginning of summer and one towards the end. Both are cartoon-creation based, taught by returning instructor Danny Gordon. The digital camps will be an hour and a half each day, from 10-11:30 a.m., held over Zoom. At the end of the camp, Danny will print one of each camper’s pieces on a water bottle.
What COVID precautions can parents and campers expect this summer?
We had a test run with spring, and everything ran really well, so now we’re set.
We’ll do outdoor Monday morning check-in so there aren’t large groups of people in an indoor space at once. There will be stanchions set up per camp on the North Lawn, and campers and parents will check in and get a map of the building to show where the kiddos will be, plus the pickup codes and other information. Campers will meet their instructor and studio assistant and then enter their studio classrooms with their fellow campers.
The rest of the week, parents will drop off and pick up their campers drive-through style outside our main entrance.
Masks will remain required, and frequent hand washing and sanitizing will be encouraged. Enrollment will be limited to 10 students per camp and five camps per week – and they’ll be spread in and around all of our spaces (multiple levels in multiple buildings + the outdoor campus). Campers will have individual, distanced workspaces – assigned to them for the whole week – inside the studios.
Lunches and recess will be staggered on the North Lawn, limiting the amount of interaction campers will have with kids in other camps.
Editor’s note: Check out the entire summer Camp Contemporary lineup, for kids aged 5 to 12, here. As mentioned, camps are filling fast. Want to register before the general public gets access Monday? Sign up for a membership.
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