PCD Art teacher Jen Karl was a new mom to two little kids when she and her best friend looked around and noticed that the summer camp they most wanted their children to attend didn't seem to exist. "What we really wanted was for our kids to learn about nature, how to save the world, and how to be good artists," Karl says. "At the time, there really wasn't anything like that for our kids' age group." So Karl set out to create exactly that camp at PCD. Based on a foundation of creating art and exploring the natural world, Karl began with a half-day, two-week program for just ten campers. That was nine years ago, and since then, PCD's summer camps have grown in scope and size.
The lead up to 2020's summer camp has certainly been tumultuous as Karl and Summer Programs Director Emet Schwartz have had to pivot several times between in-person and virtual options in order to meet evolving COVID-19 restrictions. Each time restrictions changed, Karl and Schwartz had to rework camp programs and guidelines. The changes also affected class offerings and even the hiring of counselors.
Karl seems unfazed, however, by continually having to redesign summer camp. "I feel like being trained as an artist, there's this way of looking at something as an opportunity," she says. "Art school did that every single day. I had to come up with solutions that were big and awesome with very little. That kind of training was drilled into me, and now we're constantly having to find creative solutions to things and looking at these kinds of challenges as opportunities to see something differently."
With Karl and Schwartz's hard work, creativity, and ability to find opportunity in challenges, PCD's 2020 Summer Camp is now open (and in-person!) for kids ages four to fifteen. Camp will be running through July 31st and offers activities such as cooking, sculpture, painting, drafting, drawing, weaving, city building, and even scavenger hunts.
Once the state approved in-person summer camps, PCD also switched to operating under an extensive set of safety protocols. These protocols include limiting group numbers, taking daily temperature checks, daily cleaning and disinfecting of camp areas, and increased hand washing.
Although Karl initially worried that the stringent safety protocols would be a source of anxiety for campers, she's actually found the opposite to be true.
"The kids are absolutely normal, fun-loving kids," Karl says. "They're set free here. I was worried there'd be anxiety: we have to take their temperature every day, we're talking to Mom or Dad or whoever is dropping them off about their health every day, we're checking and making sure they're safe. But then the kids just run away and have fun. Thankfully we're still able to give them that sense of freedom, and an artistic and creative space for them to express themselves in any way they want."
Visit PCD's Summer Camp page for registration and additional information.