Stay Young: Summer Art Camp

Last month, Stay introduced its first summer art camp for kids. Dubbed Stay Young: Summer Art Camp, this five-week course showed students how to tap into their creativity through a multitude of hands-on arts activities such as painting, drawing, and sculpture-making.

Stay Young, a youth-focused initiative at Stay, encourages students to delve into their creative side. Stay is the only space offering arts-based workshops, events and exhibits within a 10 mile radius. Because of this, Stay Young students are exposed to a unique environment that focuses on nurturing and inspiring their creativity.

By having these skills developed, students that participate in Stay Young: Summer Art Camp are able to harness their creativity and apply it to their daily lives. This ultimately ensures that our youth can effectively communicate, collaborate, think critically, and create solutions for the problems we face today in the community, as well as problems that have yet to come.


Week One

Drawing and Illustration

Like the first day of school, there were children eager to make friends and get their hands on art supplies, while others felt more comfortable in the background. Thankfully, Griffiths Middle School’s very own art teacher, Ed Plant, made sure no child felt left out or overwhelmed in the gallery. As the group collectively found a rhythm, they began their first art topic of camp: drawing and illustration. Once Plant gave them creative freedom after explaining the instructions, it was as if each child had entered their own world. Each piece that came into fruition became a testament to every child's creativity. At the end of the day, the group no longer found a use for icebreakers. Every child seemed to be more comfortable with their neighbors, as well as with the artistic freedom they were allotted. What stood out the most, however, was that each child had a look of excitement on their face as they left the gallery. They now had a reason to look forward to the next week.


Week Two

Painting and Watercolors

Now that the children had surpassed the “awkwardness” of getting to know each other and gained eagerness for future activities, they hit the ground running for their next art topic: painting and watercolors. The group was supplied with easels and canvases and the classroom maintained a dynamic similar to Drawing and Illustration week. Through the guidance of Plant, the students were able to materialize their own painting of a sea animal of their choice. With the help of rainbow-colored manta rays, sea horses, and crabs, the gallery was transformed into an underwater paradise, courtesy of its very own Downey youth.


Week Three

Robot and Clay Creation

For their next art topic, the class moved away from the technicality and precision required to create paintings or illustrations. Plant introduced a more hands-on activity to the art camp students: sculpture-making. The students created robot-like creatures from discarded pieces of wood and lego pieces, and learned to make their own clay art supply holders. Within the classroom, you couldn't go five minutes without hearing: “What if…”. This phrase became a window into the minds of each child. “What if… I made my robot look like Wall-E!” and “What if… I painted my clay holder!” are just some examples of kids embracing their creativity through their own means.


Week Four


This week the group was given their next art topic: to create mosaics using an outline from a coloring book and a variety of pastel colors. By now, every child knew the daily routine for summer camp. However, what separated this week from the previous ones, was that the students were rewarded with pizza towards the end of the day. “Art and pizza. It doesn't get much better than that!” expressed Plant while he assisted children with the cleanup of scrap paper. As the day began to wrap, Plant had assigned their final task, to bring all of their creations with them next week for a mini art exhibition. With that message, they were sent home with full bellies and, yet again, something to look forward to next week.


Week 5

Print-making, Anime and Art Exhibition

On the final day of camp, the students learned their last art topics: print-making and anime. The gallery was teeming with excitement as each child readily prepared their artwork presentations for their parents. As parents began to arrive and admire the work of their children, we spoke to a few about their experiences and thoughts on the art camp. The general consensus determined that Stay Young: Summer Art Camp was a breath of fresh air for their kids. Some even suggested that the camp be made longer for the benefit of its participants. 


Why Stay Young: Summer Art Camp?

Stay hosts Stay Young: Summer Art Camp in order to provide footing for Downey youth to tap into their creativity in a world that often neglects the benefits that can be reaped from creative practice. It’s important to have a balance; a mix of skills.

If we look beyond the “messes” that were made throughout the month of art camp, it’s evident that something interesting happened within each individual child. A creative awakening of sorts. Every streak of color that strayed from the layout of a canvas, every lego or chip of wood that was smothered in hot glue, and every blank piece of paper was quickly turned into an attestation of each child’s personality. It’s clear that participating in simple art projects, which are sometimes so wrongfully neglected, motivated each child to not deny themselves freedom of expression. In addition to building more self-confidence through the arts, they now have a better grasp on how to tap into their creative side and apply that creativity to their everyday life. By providing programs like Stay Young: Summer Art Camp, our youth are able to practice their creative and critical-thinking skills and secure a bright future for the city of Downey


Meet the Author

John Jacho is a senior at Warren High School currently interning with Stay Gallery. His hobbies include writing and watching films. He hopes to be a director one day.