Though a few months have now passed, the memory of Youth Ignited Arts Camp is still fresh in our minds. This March Break program was new for us and we hoped and prayed it would be something that would be interesting and beneficial to the teens we serve in Beasley and the surrounding neighbourhoods.
I think I can speak for all of staff when I say that it was quite a learning experience for all of us! Though it is tempting to judge a program by the number of participants, we have learned over the years that it is not the quantity of people involved, but the quality of the time spent with the participants that attend. We averaged around six teens per day, but we really enjoyed getting to know some teens that we have known for some time in a different way. One teen expressed that he hadn’t been able to participate very much in art class because he was so frequently suspended from school. He found he had quite a bit of talent and interest in various aspects of art, especially painting and wood-working. We saw many teens slowly become more comfortable throughout the week with staff and volunteers and begin to express themselves more openly.
Each day we welcomed enthusiastic and talented volunteers to teach us new artistic skills. The week began with a focus on poetry and song-writing and on photography and videography. The teens and leaders got over some initial shyness and some very intriguing poems were written and great images were captured. Day two brought a day of painting and an exploration of colour and texture. Though there were many protests of “I can’t paint!” initially, this turned out to be far from true. Many works created on this day remain on display at the church so we can continue to enjoy them. Wednesday was spent learning the art of sewing and crocheting. Some of the men were a little skeptical, but proved themselves quite adept at scarf making! The next day we took a field trip up to Guido de Bres Christian Highschool to participate in workshops on drama and cooking/baking. The teens enjoyed playing some dramatic games and the cupcakes and lasagna they made were absolutely scrumptious! On Friday we created some Word Art on canvas and wood and also made a picnic table with the men from Circle A Carpentry. The picnic table is being thoroughly enjoyed by young and old in the congregation as the weather becomes warmer and the days longer.
Another important project to come out of the Art Camp was a mural created by the congregation. Amber Aasman, our artist in residence at Streetlight, designed and painted the main images on the mural, and then invited the congregation to add words and phrases that express their faith, their passion for the community, and the joy of worshiping at Streetlight Church.
This mural adorns the Wilson St. side of the building and brings us another step closer to developing a recognizable identity in the Beasley neighbourhood and also to connecting us more closely as a church family. The teens were able to participate in the creation of this mural as well, and it was mounted on the wall during the open house that wrapped up our Art Camp. Other features of the open house included a broad showcase of the artistic works created and a slide show of video clips and photos documenting the week.
The week was enriching and educational for all who participated. We all had the opportunity to develop pre-existing talents and to nurture some fledgling ones. God has blessed his people richly with creativity. We also learned that when we doubt our abilities, sometimes we must just simply try. As Vincent Van Gogh said “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”.
On behalf of Streetlight Staff,
Danielle Heemskerk, Child & Youth Worker
I want to offer a sincere “thank-you” to the following people: Zac Aasman, & Steve Aasman of Circle A Carpentry, Pete VanDyk, Dan Muis, Trevor Malda, Jodie Venema, Amber Aasman, Hannah Kampen, Andrea Kampen, Tamsin Sloots, Leah Higgins, Rich Tomlin, Michelle Vandervelde, Rebekah Venema, Jodi Tamminga, Jordan Riesebosch, and Denise Ludwig