During the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to work at Grier Summer, a summer camp at the Grier School in Birmingham, Pennsylvania teaching Digital Art and serving as their summer camp photographer. Throughout the six weeks spent on the Grier campus, I was able to open up creative doors for campers ages six through seventeen, capture many ‘first’ moments, but most importantly put my own digital art skills to the test by teaching classes.
Working at the Grier School was a time I will never forget. The campers who I taught were filled with tons of passion and a dedication to craftsmanship I hadn’t seen in young students before. The girls at this camp were willingly open to challenge themselves in order to extend their capabilities within their designated activities.
My first week at Grier Summer was intimidating. It definitely is not your average summer camp, as the girls there come from all over the world looking to expand their knowledge in dance, art, or equestrian related activities. From day one of teaching, it was evident to me that these girls were not interested in twiddling their thumbs on Microsoft Paint, but diving right into photography, photo manipulation, and illustration work. Taken aback but also extremely excited by their drive, I went home knowing I needed to change my game plan for the remainder of the summer. During my days spent teaching, I learned how to adapt my technical vocabulary to a classroom that was spread out eleven years in age, how to explain the steps to a project in-depth to students who didn’t yet know the handy shortcuts of the adobe program, and how to work at a pace that was comfortable to the girls, not one that I’m used to working at. Adapting and learning these three things allowed me to become a better mentor for the campers and more confident in my personal Adobe skills since I was now teaching students with little to no experience.
When I wasn’t teaching classes, I was serving as the camp photographer. During this role it was my job to try and capture at least one shot of each camper participating in their four separate activities throughout the day. This meant a lot of walking and of course, a lot of photos. On a daily basis, I captured, edited, and uploaded to the camp blog close to 900 photos. Before the summer, I had close to no exposure working with Nikon cameras with fancy lens extensions or Adobe Lightroom; so taking on this photographer role was another stress added on early. Thankfully, the administrative staff and my photographer sister were extremely helpful in showing me my way around a camera allowing me to leave with what I’d call some amazing shots. Although teaching classes was an amazing experience, I’d say serving as the camp photographer was the highlight of my summer job. Being the photographer allowed me to build a relationship with the campers that didn’t register for my class activity. It allowed me to capture the relationship between rider and horse, dancer and instructor, artist and subject, that is often overlooked. And best of all, it allowed me to be the bridge between the campers and their parents, especially the ones in other countries, so that they could see the amazing time their daughters were having.
I am extremely grateful to have had the chance to work at Grier Summer and will hold the lessons I learned there with me forever. To the campers I interacted with over the six weeks, I applaud your passion and dedication, and to the staff I thank you for the memories.
Vinnie Caroselli ’20
POE: Graphic Communication