Professional artists and young people inspire each other in Port Townsend. Sponsored by Centrum.
PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. – Middle school kids from across the Pacific Northwest are creating art, forming friendships and discovering new ways to express themselves at Centrum’s Explorations, a week-long immersive arts camp that can change their life. And the buzz in the air during the March 2022 session of this camp was unmistakable. It was the first time since the start of the pandemic that the students attended in person.
“It’s amazing, for many of these students it’s the first time they’ve been away from home in two years,” said Becky Berryhill, Centrum’s youth programs coordinator. “Seeing the excitement that students bring – ‘I’m back in the world, I’m away from home, I’m with other students my age, like living life in person in the moment!’ “It’s very powerful.
Professional artists work with these children. The lessons are practical. Experimental.
“I’ve been coming here for the last four or five years to teach here at Explorations,” said Joe Seamons, a musician from Seattle who teaches folk music classes. “Children, the quality, the openness, the vulnerability and the excitement that they show is really powerful.
This generation-to-generation learning builds community and preserves culture.
“I teach Caribbean steel pans,” said instructor and musician Angie Tabor. “This instrument was actually invented by the youth culture in Trinidad – so let’s talk about this instrument with these young people this week where they try new things and tap into their own creativity, it fits in really well.
Explorations are just that – a chance to try new things. Seattle’s Robert Eyerman teaches a breakdancing class that’s always a find.
“Nobody wants to breakdance when they come here. Nobody. Ever,” Eyerman said. “After they took it, they were like, I wish my heart was breakdancing, I screwed up! Next year I’m coming back and I’m definitely going to have breakdancing as my core business. C has happened every year for the past few years.”
Sloane Melani-Hawkins, 12, from Olympia, is deaf and explores everything from breakdancing to ukulele, and she has a singular reason to be here.
“Because I wanted to improve my knowledge,” she said.
She added that she got a scholarship to attend. Centrum provides the tools to any student who wishes to participate in this artistic camp and flourish. In Sloane’s case, they provided a sign language interpreter to help him navigate the classes.
“Yes, I’m very grateful,” she said.
Children are not the only ones to learn something here.
“I learn as much from them, honestly, I learn as much from them as they learn from me,” said Daemond Arrindell, a Seattle poet and performer who teaches spoken word. “My job is just to give them permission to be themselves.”
“Every time I’m here, I’m inspired,” Tabor said. “By what children do and their bravery.”
For these college students, it’s more than an opportunity to explore. It is a launching pad towards the future that they choose.
To donate to a scholarship fund for Explorations and other Centrum youth programs, go to centrum.org/donate.
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