Lively Spaces, Lively Summer

A Summer of Art, Dance, and Writing

Each summer, a select group of Colby students participate in the Museum’s rigorous eight-week internship program. Interns immerse themselves in the life of the Museum, engaging in weekly staff meetings, making vital contributions to their assigned departments, and participating in a series of professional development workshops. In this post, Linde Family Foundation Intern Sara Friedland ’19 reflects on her experiences this summer working with the Museum’s Lively Spaces summer camp.

It was 4:00 p.m. on a Tuesday when I was offered a position as an intern at the Colby College Museum of Art. I was ecstatic to have been chosen. Nothing feels better than getting paid to do what you love, which, in my case, consisted of planning the Lively Spaces Summer Camp and teaching art to all of the campers. Lively Spaces is a three-week dance, poetry, and art camp for second through sixth graders from all over Central Maine. Campers get the opportunity to explore the Museum’s art collection while discovering new approaches to artistic and creative expression in a safe environment. As an art history major, musician, and former dancer, this was the perfect internship for me, especially since my memories of the days I spent at summer camp are some of my happiest.

Sara guiding Lively Spaces participants and their families.

As the Linde Family Foundation Coordinator of School and Teacher Programs, it was the task of Margaret Aiken to supervise Lively Spaces. Still in her first year the position, Margaret had us begin by learning from previous years’ programs. I began by reviewing and organizing the thumb drive that contained every Lively Spaces file since 2008, creating new daily camp schedules, recording information from camper registration forms, and sending out confirmation e-mails. These tasks were relatively relaxed, and I was convinced this was how the rest of my summer would be, until planning week began. With Margaret’s help, I worked in collaboration with dance instructor Shiwa Noh and poetry instructor Jody Nichols  to develop weekly lesson plans. We outlined each day of the three weeks with lessons that would be fun, would relate to the Museum collection, and would complement the work in other disciplines. By the end of the week, we were all tired and very eager for Lively Spaces to finally begin.

When the day we had been waiting for finally arrived, the hubbub I so vividly remembered from the first day of camp quickly turned into a chaotic jumble of excited children and parents rushing to get to work. Realizing how crowded and noisy the Museum lobby had become in a matter of minutes, we rounded up the forty-two campers and cautiously proceeded with our introductory activity.

Though nervous about how the rest of Lively Spaces would go, I stepped up to the challenge. I quickly learned how to adapt to each camper’s needs, as some required extra help understanding certain concepts or simply more attention than the others. Eventually, with the instructors’ assistance, they refined their strengths, and tackled these challenges with vigor and determination. The campers were all so proud of the projects they completed, and could not wait to show them off at the final performance. Every day was a paint-stained, laughter-filled adventure, which never failed to leave me exhausted but excited for the next day.

The confusion of the first few days slowly faded into a rhythmic hum. With the last day arriving soon, we were all feeling a bit nervous, as our final task was to present all of the projects from the three weeks of camp. Each group of campers performed their dances, recited their plays and poems, and presented their works of art to their families. The parents were enthusiastic to see what their children had been working on, and the campers were eager to share everything they’d learned. As each group displayed its projects, the program’s success became increasingly apparent. Parents were thrilled with the performance, and made sure to let us know how much their children had enjoyed themselves over the three weeks of camp.

Lively Spaces campers share their choreography in the Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz

Afterwards, I congratulated the campers on all of their hard work, and hugged them goodbye, realizing that this was the end of Lively Spaces. As the campers and their families left, the distinct smell of sunscreen wafted through the heavy glass doors for the last time, putting a smile on my face. As I entered the empty Museum lobby alone, I understood how much I would miss the Lively Spaces program and campers. I had finally returned to summer camp but was no longer the camper. Instead I had forty-two kids who had made my first job truly extraordinary.

For more information on summer opportunities for Colby students, visit the Museum’s website