Camp Color: Humanities Enrichment Workshop Gives Middle Schoolers a Chance to Reconnect
August 19, 2021
“Middle school is a challenging time in the best of circumstances,” says Nadine Palumbo, high school teacher, parishioner at St. Mark’s in Islip, and founder of Camp Color—a three-day, in-person, humanities-based workshop for middle school students to foster creativity, conversation, and community. After a year of global lockdown and virtual learning, Nadine was hearing from her middle school teacher colleagues how their students seemed to yearn for interpersonal connection. Camp Color was created to provide these young learners with a chance to build friendships and approach learning in an experimental and non-competitive way.
The camps drew in middle schoolers (as campers) and high school students (as youth leaders) from across the diocese. Activities included creating a group collage, scavenger hunts, identifying colors during a nature study, and a stained-glass art project using construction paper.
Logan*—a particularly shy camper—pleaded with his parents to let him stay home once the first morning of camp rolled around. Logan, like most young learners, hadn’t interacted with students his own age in-person in nearly a year and a half. His nervousness nearly got the best of him, but conquering this fear proved to be much easier at Camp Color than he was accustomed to at school. Group leaders welcomed campers when they walked in, Nadine intentionally created an environment that would suit a diversity of learning styles and needs, and camp activities were creative and collaborative. When camp concluded in a family barbeque outside of St. Mark’s, Logan’s parents exchanged phone numbers with the other parents so their middle schoolers could keep in touch.
Campers were treated to a special guest speaker and art lesson from Ollie Bouler—Nadine’s own teenager—who is the author and illustrator of Olivia’s Birds. At age 11, Ollie created the illustrated field guide and raised over $200,000 for wildlife affected by the disastrous Exxon oil spill in 2010. Ollie was an inspiring example for the campers of how creativity and passion can be merged to leave a lasting, positive impact in our communities and the world.
Fortunately for those who missed Camp Color this year, Nadine is eager to expand the camp to reach even more students throughout the Diocese next summer. If you know of a middle schooler who might benefit from a creative, collaborative humanities workshop, or if you would like to be involved, please join the Camp Color mailing list by emailing email@example.com and stay up to date by following Camp Color on Twitter. You can see some of the fun moments and camper creations on Camp Color’s Kudoboard.
*Name changed for anonymity
This initiative was funded by Episcopal Ministries of Long Island’s Parish Mission Grants. Episocopal Ministries is deeply grateful to Nadine Palumbo for her work and for this interview. You can learn more about how Episcopal Ministries is resourcing and amplifying ministry across Long Island on our website and make a gift to support this work.