It’s not your usual summer camp. Not by a long shot.
In fact, Design Camp, now in its 25th year, has provided more than a diversion. It has given a good many students their careers.
“For many kids, this is their first exposure to, say, landscape architecture,” says Nicole Welch, the program’s facilitator and Curator of Education for the Contemporary Art Museum. “One of the things I’m most proud of is sometimes we establish in them a serious interest in a design discipline that the student never previously knew existed.”
The week-long camp – there are three sessions this year, two of them residential - allows high school students from around North Carolina and even the world the opportunity to survey several different design disciplines, from graphic design to architecture to industrial design to new media, including animation.
In a lot of cases, it sticks: Typically, about a third of the incoming class of the NC State College of Design is made up of students who attended Design Camp during their high school career.
This year, 50 College of Design students are helping to instruct the 260 budding designers, many of whom will use their projects in their college admissions portfolios.
The camp grew from a program started by College of Design Professor Charles Joyner in 1985 as a minority design student recruitment program. Since then, over 2,000 students have attended Design Camp. Sign-up is in February, and the slots typically fill faster than a Miley Cyrus concert sells out.
Students spend all day on a single project in that day’s discipline. For students in the overnight programs, evening “Design Challenges” allow frivolity as well. Recently, campers were divided into teams that had to invent a mascot and design the mascot’s costume for a hilarious fashion show.
Welch said that the camp’s success is really in the creative interchange between the students, the counselors, and area design professionals who are invited to visit the camp and present the work they are doing for a living.
Says Welch: “These kids see how amazing it is to have jobs doing what they love to do.”
Design Camps run through July. Design Camp is an outreach program of the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), an initiative of the College of Design. Learn more at www.cam.ncsu.edu/designcamp.