Camp Out is the first in a series of projects that will explore the use of “camp” as an artistic medium, experimenting with building intentional community without the demands of indefinite sustainability or limits of institutional traditions and educational programming. Each project provides a distinct structure and theme for a group of people gathering for a predetermined period of time. Intentionally engaging the term “camp” and its idealogical quandaries regarding utopia, escapism, community, sentimentality, nostalgia, and activism, informs both the immediate experiences at camp and the translation of what is learned when participants return home.
Camp Out first took place on August Farm in the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2012 with a small group of young adults, ages 18 to 23, that self-identified as female. Through collaborative education, leadership, skill sharing, and investigating methods of employing art in social change, we aimed to foster a sense of solidarity and empowerment during what is often an important transitional age. Camp Out was structured so that the agenda, practice, and culture could be defined organically by participants as they needed. The only requirement of campers was to teach a workshop on a subject of their choice. Workshops include tours of local farms who donated our food, self-defense, screaming, list-writing, creative writing for activism, and queer magic for self-care. Camp Out was a collaboration between myself, Marianne Copene and August Farm.
One participant lead a "Screaming Workshop," which involved the entire group hiking to a meadow and screaming loudly at her direction. She asked us to try screaming different words together and compare how each word resonated in our bodies.
Local artists and activists were also invited to teach workshops. Writer Giovanna Marcus taught a workshop on creative writing for activism.
Participant Allison Balloney, working on a collaborative sculpture in the barn at August Farm.
Five Gates Martial Arts instructors, John Baker and Korel Ponti, visited from Olympia to teach a workshop in basic self-defense.
After participant and visitor workshops finished for the day, participants gathered around a fire for "Magic Hour," a series of campfire rituals designed for self-reflection and re-imagining of the world around us.
August Farm graciously hosted Camp Out on their farm. Participants slept in tents and meals were cooked in an outdoor kitchen.
Camp participants were invited to help with farm chores each day, learning about basic farm operations and sustainable animal husbandry.
Camp Out collaborator Marianne Copene displays a CSA from Wobbly Cart Farm. Wobbly Cart donated lots of fresh vegetables for campers to eat and lead a tour of the farm for campers to learn about where their food was grown.
In 2013, Camp Out was invited to the Chicago Cultural Center by Artist In Residence Alexandria Eregbu. In a rare opportunity for an overnight sleepover event at the center, high-school age participants from Chicago came together for a program of camper-directed workshops, blind-folded tours of the museum, a dance party, self-care workshops, and shared eating, sleeping, and reflection space.
Participants gathered around a make-shift "campfire" at the Chicago Cultural Center.