Hello Happy Campers!
It has been another busy week on campus. We are working hard to get buildings ready for camp this summer. Kenley, Roger and Cassi are all hammering out details about housing, classes and schedules. Robert is starting to get the kitchen organized to feed the hundreds of hungry artists. We get calls and letters every day from students excited to be coming back to camp, or coming for the very first time. When they come they will be bringing with them the story of who they are. While they are here that story will be shaped and changed in ways they cannot yet imagine. The campus has a story, too. Volunteers come everyday to be a part of this story, bringing their own chapters into the whole. This place that felt dead such a short time ago is now humming with activity and energy. Just this week Diana Saverin, contributing journalist for Alaska Public Radio Network, presented a piece about us for the radio show AK. Thanks, Diana, for helping us tell our story. You can follow this link to listen:
Below, Peter Apathy, President of the SFAC Board of Directors, shares his camp story.
At first glance there’s nothing remarkable about it, really. A black hooded sweatshirt, like countless others we see on kids and adults every day up here in the Northwest.
But there is something remarkable about it: a simple logo, 3 inches wide by 4 inches tall (I measured). Five round circles in various sizes, in two slightly different shades of green, with thin vertical lines dropping down from each one. I’ve always thought they were balloons. Other people tell me they see blobs of dripping paint. They could be trees from a Dr. Seuss forest.
But look closer at the logo, at the bottom, and you’ll see what’s truly remarkable: in fine print, the words Sitka Fine Arts Camp 2006.
I was wearing that sweatshirt a few years ago on a trip to Juneau, making the rounds downtown on a First Friday, when galleries all over town open new shows to an after-work crowd. I didn’t think much about it when, at the very first place I walked into, a woman whom I’d never met saw the green balloons (paint?) and immediately told me how important Sitka Fine Arts Camp had been in her kids’ lives. We shared a few moments of conversation, and I went on.
The next “sweatshirt moment,” a few galleries later, stopped me in my tracks. Or I should say stopped a young woman in her tracks. Looking over the art on display I overheard this young lady, perhaps 19 or 20 years old, tell a coworker she was going to take a break. One her way to the back of the gallery she glanced over and noticed the green blobs (trees?) on my sweatshirt. One 90 degree turn and three confident steps later, she was standing in front of me, a stranger – introducing herself, asking me how I was connected to camp. Then she told me something I will never forget: “When I get on my feet I’m going to give back to Fine Arts Camp, because I was one of those kids who could never have gone to camp without a scholarship. It was the most important thing that’s ever happened to me, and I want someone else to have the same chance I had.”
That experience is as powerful for me today as it was back then. I don’t know if that young woman has made her way in the art world, or contributed to a scholarship fund. Maybe she has kids of her own now and she’s doing what she can to make sure they can come to camp. What I do know is that she will carry her experience, her passion and her confidence for the rest of her life.
Balloons? Paint blobs? Dr. Seuss trees? In the end it doesn’t really matter what they are. But ask anyone who recognizes that 4 by 3 inch logo about the fine print – the words Sitka Fine Arts Camp – and they’ll tell you the real meaning, their very own story about community, creativity, confidence. It’s a story that’s renewed year after year by students, faculty, staff, parents – and former campers making their way in the world.
Do you have a camp story to share? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and use the subject line “Blog Story”
“In art there is no wrong answer”