I never went to summer camp as a kid. So I created the summer camp of my dreams when I grew up.
I dreamed of a huge light-filled studio bursting at the seams with art supplies. I dreamed of cartwheels and hula hoops and swinging until my feet no longer touched the ground. I dreamed of color – crayons, paint, markers, felt, bins of beads and googly eyes and tiny embellishments, paper in all shades of the rainbow.
I dreamed of a secret nook where I could hide out and read a good book. I dreamed of scribbling my thoughts on paper. And I dreamed of looking in the mirror and loving who I saw.
In 2010, I created what I had only seen in my dreams for girls ages six to twelve in my hometown of Nutley, New Jersey.
I “borrowed” a studio in a friend’s home with wooden floors and windows fifteen feet high and a screen door that looks like it was built for giants. I filled it with art supplies and I flung open the door and began the creativity and self-empowerment camp I had always dreamed of attending.
In 2013, my partner, the poet, Maya Rachel Stein and I refurbished a vintage caravan and filled it with typewriters for writing secret thoughts or stories or poetry and a bunk for curling up on with a good book. Every summer girls fill the lawn turning cartwheels and spraying liquid watercolors on brilliant white sheets of paper and they hang their wishes from trees.
We roll out our yoga mats and learn how to hold poses without trembling. We meet artists who share how they get to do what they love. We laugh. We experience frustration and anger and disappointment and we learn how to deal with it all. We are independent and creative and brave. It’s exactly like I pictured it. It’s exactly what summer should be.
About the Author – Amy Tingle
Amy Tingle, is the co-founder of Food for the Soul Train with her partner, Maya Stein. Food for the Soul Train is a mobile creativity company based in Nutley, NJ. Their mission? To bring creativity to communities everywhere via their vintage caravan, nicknamed MAUDE (Mobile Art Unit Designed for Everyone).
Amy and Maya design creative and collaborative environments, online and in person, which help children and adults to build self-confidence, harness their imaginations, practice problem-solving, and bridge differences through the joy of self-discovery.
They are passionate about playful investigation; summer camp for girls is just one of their many offerings. A spring cycling and creativity retreat for adults is another. They dream up – and try to carry out – as many creative projects as they can fit into a year!
Amy is also, among many things, a human being, the mother of two teenage boys, a visual artist (her most recent work includes a series of collages born during The 2015 100-Day Project), and a lover of words, magic, kindness, and a ninja poetess.
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