By Lily Zhang, Senior, North Allegheny Senior High School
If you were to have passed 5125 Penn Avenue any afternoon this week, you would have heard the sound of joyful giggles, enthusiastic discussions, and constant references to polaphanticorns (a polar bear-elephant-unicorn species) and Monsters Inc. protagonist Mike Wazowski. In short, you would have seen the Storytellers’ Studio Camp in the making.
A week-long summer camp, the Storytellers’ Studio Camp is one of the many programs offered by the Literary Arts Boom (LAB) as part of a summer-long celebration of connected learning coordinated by Hive Pittsburgh. The mission of the camp is to excite kids about storytelling through various mediums, from play production to songwriting to cartooning. The program is divided into three separate camps target to a specific age group: the week of July 8th is for ages 5 -7, the week of July 15th is for ages 8-10, and the week of July 22nd is for ages 11-13. As with all of the LAB’s programs, the emphasis is on helping kids “pursue their interests, find their voices, and have fun,” explains LAB founder and director Paula Levin.
The Storytellers’ Studio Camp provides just that. From 3 to 6 pm Monday through Friday, kids get to delve into the dynamics of storytelling, infusing lessons of narrative structure and characterization with creativity. Educators and outside partners come to the camp to guide students throughout the week, but ultimately, the story and its various finalized forms are all a product of the kids’ own ingenuity and collaboration. “It’s about tapping into the energy of the kids and channeling their passion into a cohesive story,” states Juan Fernandez, a cartoonist who serves as one of the camp mentors.
The results have been astounding. The first week, kids crafted a story featuring a giant talking poodle named Lucy and her adventures with Beast Boy and Carlo, a pink flamingo with blue wings. During the second week, kids got very adventurous with monsters, mystical creatures, and more. Having just performed experiments as part of a co-located Mad Science Camp earlier that afternoon, the kids knew all about the safety necessary during intense learning. As Abby, age 10, declared, “Storytelling is so dangerous that we need to put on our goggles!”