Most people think of sleep-away camps with one stereotype- an unpopulated area of land with wood cabins and many different activities for kids and teens to try. However, SOCAPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) is unique. Instead of being in the middle of nowhere, SOCAPA camps are held on campuses right in the middle of big cities. In addition to having a range of teen programs in the creative arts, SOCAPA stands out for attracting special and creative people. Despite a large percentage of international students and various languages spoken, there was a camaraderie and feeling of community between campers that made the time there even more enjoyable. This camp helps bring together people from other countries through the arts in a safe, yet urban environment.
When I attended SOCAPA in Brooklyn, I had an unexplainably extraordinary experience. As a participant in the 2-week digital photography program I was given a chance to learn from a professional how to develop my skills in using a camera. With my trusty Nikon D5100, a pair of sneakers and some sunglasses, I was able to dive into the New York City scene and create art I never imagined I could have made. The digital photography program was only one of six programs. The others were: dance, acting, filmmaking and darkroom photography. I bonded over photography with my nineteen other classmates, who not only came from a multitude of countries and states, but each brought an interesting point of view to the table.
With two instructors, the photography groups traveled to popular destinations around Manhattan and Brooklyn on “photo safaris.” Being a native New Yorker these destinations were not novel, but it was interesting to travel around and have an opportunity to take photographs with composition and meaning unlike a normal tourist’s snapshot. We took the subway to Coney Island, Wall Street, Times Square, the International Center of Photography and much more. One of the greatest parts of camp was taking portraits of the dancing and acting campers in the studio. We were given the opportunity to use bright studio lighting and try out headshot photo, and the actors and dancers got discs of their photos. It was phenomenal to have the feeling of learning the important aspects of something you really love, and this came through short lectures on the history of photography, basics of the digital camera, Lightroom, Photoshop, a guest speaker and museum visits.
At the conclusion of each day, there were of variety of night activities planned for the whole entire camp. We went to the movies, had a talent show, played games, and explored Brooklyn. On the Friday of each week there was a formal showcase to display the different work that had been created in the camp. There were live performances from the actors and dancers, short films from the filmmakers and photo slideshows from photography. Each piece of artwork was great and special in its own way. The camp was concluded by seeing the show Fuerza Bruta. This show was a perfect fit for the group because it was an exciting interactive performance for our age group. There show was singing, music and dancing- minus photography, this is essentially what SOCAPA is about!