Challenges and Lessons Learned
Engaging in post-camp assessment, Eaton reports a few things she would adjust in the second year. She would prefer to change the physical location of some of the partner activities on career and character development; ideally she would conduct most activities on-site at the Y. The YMCA is a comfortable, roomy and appealing site for the young people. She would also adjust the art programming so as to provide four weeks of exploratory work wherein the kids can sample each of the disciplines. Then she would invite them to spend the remaining weeks focusing on their areas of natural affinity. These students, new to the creative world, didn’t know at the outset what they liked, and they need some time to find the activity or medium that most excites them. Eaton would also rethink the visual art component, as painting and drawing were not as engaging for the students as pottery or media arts. She would build in Yoga as a daily activity, since this was very popular with the students, who found it relieved tension and provided relaxation as well as engaging the physical body.
Eaton also learned what sort of artist it takes to accomplish her ambitious goals and maximize student achievement. The most effective and inspiring Artist/Educators are mature (late twenties or older) and experienced in teaching students at-risk. The most advantageous combination in an Artist/Educator is a passion for their art and an equal passion for Detroit and for Detroit’s young people. Eaton knows that she will need to garner funding in order to pay at a rate that mature, experienced artists require and deserve. This first year, she paid people between $18 and $35 per hour, and her goal is to pay everybody the $35 rate.