When I grew up, we didn't have summer camps.

It might have been a regional thing. Our big summer activity was going to the park down the street or running through the sprinkler. I had such a great time with my friends adventuring around the neighborhood, playing and changing it up every day. One day, we'd make those rex lace key chains, another day we'd play with chalk on the whole block, the next go to see a movie with some parent that felt we needed some cool air and quiet time. It was very centered on what we wanted and needed at the time. The kids from my neighborhood and I still talk about those super fun, popsicle stained summers that we ran the show.

That child-centric approach? That's how we run our Art + Improv camp.

Last year was our first year of a partnership between SECCA and The Engaging Educator. I've both run and taught over 15 camps, and I wanted this camp to focus on the kids and their needs through the lens of art making and looking, as well as improvisational theatre. SECCA was the perfect venue for this – as a cultural organization that not only had exhibition space, but also a theatre as well as a huge backyard (it's still summer!) it was a perfect backdrop for the student-led environment. During last year's program, the kids not only learned about art through sketching, making and movement, they also created art inspired by the mediums they viewed AND created a short form improv show based off of the improv techniques and activities they practiced during the week. Whose Line is it Anyway, move over – these kids nailed it.

Our biggest complaint from last year was the time – there wasn't enough for how much fun they were having! We had a student-curated art exhibition (they hung the show), interactive art making with the parents (led by the kids) AND an improv show – all in one week, and all created by the students! If we could do that in a week, what would happen in two?

That's our goal this year – empower the students more with our two-week program. Since our one-week camp yielded incredible results, we wanted to be sure to not only capture the energy of the program from last year but also allow for the additional growth and agency that only happens with more time. And this year's SECCA summer exhibition 20 Years of Art-o-mat is the perfect backdrop to individualized learning that's not only fun but also focused on the student's wants!

Join us this summer for an exploration in art and improv that focuses on your student's interests. Summer is all about adventure – come explore with us! 

- Jen Brown, Founder and Artistic Director of The Engaging Educator