Reigniting the Spark at Appel Farm Arts Camp
A unique and intentional overnight camp experience rooted in the arts, community, and personal growth.
“I love listening to kids for the greatness inside of them, and I love that Appel Farm invites an entire community to do that. Literally changing the world summer by summer.”
–Adrienne Mikulka, Camp Staff and Camp Parent
After a year in which buzzwords have been “unprecedented,” “Zoom,” and “quarantine,” Appel Farm Arts Camp is envisioning summer with another word in mind. “Our campers use the word ‘freedom’ to describe how they feel at Appel Farm,” Jennie Quinn, Public Outreach Director, tells us. “Everyone gets to relax into who they are at their core.”
For over 60 years, kids ages 7-17 have come to Appel Farm for a unique and intentional overnight camp experience rooted in the arts, community, and personal growth. Kristina Hill, Arts Integration and STEAM Education Director, describes: “At school, kids get wound up all year, and then they come to camp, and we unwind them. We create a space where they can explore their individual interests and rediscover their love of learning.”
After a year of virtual learning, distance, and fear, this is a taller task than usual. Some parents have expressed that their kids are not as inspired or excited as they used to be by their passions. With the rigidity and social disconnect of the pandemic, self-confidence and sense of self suffers, and dims that “spark” that drives kids to create, perform, and dream. “Being part of a creative community will help reignite that spark,” Hill hopes.
Campers select two majors and two minors that allow them to build their skills and practice the creative process over two-week curriculum arcs, working toward culminating events like art shows, gallery openings, and performances. Majors are offered in core artistic areas such as music, theatre, dance, visual arts, and more; while minors vary each summer based on the specialties of the teaching artists. Major and minor classes are combined with “free choice” time that allows them to explore other areas of the arts, play sports, swim, or just hang out.
Having that level of exploration, expression, and choice after a year of loneliness and lack of control can be healing, and that is where Appel Farm thrives. “One of the things that sets Appel Farm apart is choice and freedom,” Hill says. Through weekend workshops, free time, and community-building activities, campers can try new things outside of their four selected classes. “Some campers come to camp with focused interest and dive right in, others need to dabble and try new things to find their passion,” Quinn describes.
Aside from putting extensive safety measures in place and anticipating 50 percent capacity, planning for Summer 2021 requires really getting to the heart of what Appel Farms is all about. This includes talking to returning families to find out what brings them back, what is important to them, what they don’t want to lose. “This will not be a summer of loss, but a summer that celebrates what we all love about Appel Farm, safely.” Quinn says. Sometimes the specifics of a tradition need to change, but the goal, what campers get out of it—on a deeper level—remains.
This summer, they will be utilizing two outdoor stages for performances, and they are even exploring the idea of doing a show that moves throughout the camp, letting the audience spread out across their 115 acres. Masking, distance, and ventilation of course are the keys to creating an environment of safe and social arts and learning; but the level of care, creativity, and empathy in uncovering kids’ hopes and dreams and delivering them despite the challenges of a pandemic is what makes Appel Farm so singular. “Our focus is on meeting our campers where they’re at, inspiring, engaging, and empowering them to grow as artists and humans,” says Hill.
To learn more or request information, visit appelfarmartscamp.org
Appel Farm Arts Camp supports the Main Line Parent Community.