Stomping Ground Gets Creative

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About this time last year Laura told me that Stomping Ground was starting a Creative Residency Program and had invited artists to volunteer some of their time to lead activities for campers, related to their art or otherwise, and in return gave them a space to live and work on their artistic pursuits. I told her I thought it was a cool idea and pretended like I had the slightest idea what she was talking about. What came to be of the program made me reimagine the possibilities at camp.

We were joined by writers, photographers, musicians, installation artists, painters, dancers, an architect, entrepreneurs, and a glass worker to name a few, all who brought enthusiasm and love for their craft to share with camp. What ensued were pop up dance numbers, a camera obscura (I know what this is now), writing workshops, giant spider nets in the woods (still not entirely sure what this is), monologues, original songs, lectures from professionals about what an artistic life and career are like, and so much more.

Last week I got to catch up with two of our artists, Jade and Maggie who are the directors of the program for the 2019 summer. I got to hear a bit about the experience from their perspective:

WHY THEY BOUGHT INTO WHAT SEEMED LIKE A VERY WHACKY IDEA

WHAT IS ARTSFEST?

“Kids bring a new fresh energy and offer a really good way to look at your art and how people might perceive it”

Maggie told me there’s something about packing up and throwing yourself into a new setting that really works for some creative people. She mentioned her experience nannying and how working with kids in creative spaces is a great way to think differently and gain a wider perspective about making art.

Similarly, Jade had never been to summer camp growing up and was keen on a totally new experience. After positions in high schools on weekends and as a TA in photography classes, Jade found out he liked working with kids because they brought so many personalities and that he too was inspired by being around young, creative people. Jade said he loved the self directed learning aspect at Stomping Ground and that through watching young people make things there is so much to learn about the creative process.

WHAT IT TAKES

Obviously our program isn’t for everyone; I asked Jade and Maggie what it takes to be successful Creative Resident. There was a slight pause where it sounded like they were contemplating just how thick I was was before “well… you have to like working with kids”.

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Camp takes a lot of energy and enthusiasm and silliness. If you hate the sound of being covered in shaving cream and paint and spaghetti while 120 young people are running and screaming lyrics to some awful pop song, this residency might not be for you.

From there they went on about how important it is to be flexible at camp. Sometimes your conceptual development lecture just won’t land and you have to move on to something like Jedi Training Academy, and that’s okay. If you’re someone who comes up with a plan and needs to see it actualized, this residency might not be for you.

This residency is for easy going, creative, fun loving individuals who draw from Mother Nature’s warm yet often rainy, muddy, buggy embrace.

AHA! MOMENTS

At camp we talk about AHA! moments where something clicks for you.

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Jade told me he learned a lot about just jumping in and having fun. Things work and things don’t and you’ll plan something that no one’s interested in it’s all about rolling with it and making the next moment an enjoyable one.

Similarly, Maggie noted she learned a lot about the impact you could have at camp and how you don’t need to please everybody. Some of the most meaningful interactions she had were in writing activities where one or two campers showed up, campers she keeps up with who want to share what they’re working on months after camp has ended.


Jade and Maggie were an immediate fit at Stomping Ground last year and we are elated that they the accepted the jobs of Residency Directors for the summer. They will be in charge of finding and onboarding new resident artists, managing the residency program and being the liaison between camp and the artists.

Artists provide unique programming and a specialized skill set that campers might not have otherwise been exposed to, thank you so much in advance to Jade and Maggie for the incredible work they will do this summer!

If any of this seems like something you might be interested, or you know someone who might be a great fit for the residency program I encourage you to reach Jade or Maggie at jade@campstompingground.org and maggie@campstompingground.org

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GEORGE CLAY
EDITOR IN CHIEF STOMPING GROUND BLOG
TALLEST MAN ALIVE
GEORGE@CAMPSTOMPINGGROUND.ORG

George Clay