Planning for Summer Camps


The Living History Mural Project – An ArtsAltoona After School Arts Program – Summer Camp

Even with all of the uncertainty we face as to when the current stay-at-home orders will be lifted and non-essential business will be allowed to open in Blair County, our ArtsAltoona Team is hard at work making plans for activities and events that we HOPE we will be able to implement this summer. We are planning a summer camp to take place in two parts, in two locations, and based on the experiences that people have had these past months. Below is a description that we recently submitted to a funding source that outlines our plans. We didn’t name the artist in the description, but we are planning to work with Pam Snyder Etters who has been part of our Leadership group from the beginning. Pam is a very talented artist and muralist. She has her own non-profit group Murals Talk which you can also find on Facebook. She does amazing work, from locally to international!

Here’s our proposal:

Life as we knew it had been significantly disrupted by the COVID- 19 pandemic. We have under stay-at-home orders for over a month and a half. Students are expected to be doing school work at home in sometimes very difficult circumstances. They are missing out on seeing their friends, and some are not able to participate in plays, musical performances, sports, proms and graduation ceremonies. Art as therapy can be an effective tool to help children who have experienced trauma. Making art can help them find healing and process their experiences. Students in this program will have an opportunity to work collaboratively with an artist to express their feelings about what they experienced during the pandemic and create a piece of public art that reflects that. This project will help children develop their creativity, confidence, and problem-solving skills. This project will also give the students an opportunity to come together as a community to collaborate. Students will develop the skills to express themselves.

The summer camps will consist of two weeks, Monday through Friday each week from 1 to 4:30pm. We anticipate the first camp being held at the Family Services Incorporated Teen Center, 1701 Sixth Ave and the second one at the ArtsAltoona Center, 2212 Sixth Ave, Altoona. The exact dates of the camps will be determined by the constraints of mandatory PA stay-at-home orders, with a tentative date of late June to early July. The targeted participants will be junior high age from the neighborhood around the Teen and ArtsAltoona Centers.

This program will engage students in the creation of a Living History Mural Project that will empower the children to express through art their feelings about social isolation, loss of in-school time, distance from friends, and their overall life experiences during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Students will be guided through the process of mural creation from start to finish. We will accommodate any youth who may want to paint and/or draw but is uncomfortable working in a group. We will adjust to whatever necessary social-distancing restraints are in place once an activity such as this is allowed to take place.

All materials necessary for the creation of the mural will be covered by the grant, along with a stipend for the artist and a mid-afternoon snack each day. The participants will be asked to wear “paint clothes” and we will supply aprons to contain some of the mess.

We hope that every student will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in the finished product and will bring their friends and family to view the mural when it is displayed publicly. We intend also that they will have a more positive attitude moving forward after having dealt with some of their negative experiences through this process of creativity and connection.