This summer, Rowan University launched its first-ever Storytellers Camp, where students from upper elementary to high school explored new avenues to tell stories through sessions in photojournalism, clay and creativity, advertising and sports broadcasting. Today we speak to Patricia Coughlan, senior lecturer and camp organizer, on how Storytellers came to be, the program’s goals and how interested students can join next summer.
What is Storytellers Camp?
Storytellers Camp is a creative media arts camp where students learn how we tell stories in all walks of life.
When we think about storytelling, often we think of a book, but it’s not limited to books. The commercials that you watch that tell a story about a parent and a child, or the Budweiser Anheuser Busch commercials that tell you the story of a dog and a horse, but it’s [actually] selling a different product.
So the idea is that even an artist who creates a piece of art is telling a story for either themselves, their life story or an inspiration, or maybe even for a client who might have commissioned a piece.
This is the inaugural year for it. It’s a small group, but it’s been great fun. And we’ve gotten really positive feedback from students and their parents.
How did the idea come about?
Prior to coming to Rowan, I was a public school teacher. I spent a lot of time in language arts and in programs that tapped into gifted and talented creative arts. And then I was a director for 10 years for an institution that ran summer camps at different colleges around the nation.
When I became a full time lecturer, and then senior lecturer here at Rowan University, the Dean of the Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts and I spoke about starting a camp, and we got a group of people from all the departments within the [college] are on board to be instructors in the summer and help us design this camp.
The storyteller staff is comprised of faculty members from the university that have experience with K-12 students. So everybody has expertise working with students, but also has expertise in the disciplines that we teach at the college level. So they try to make it fun for [younger students] who are looking for ways to express themselves.
What type of student is this geared toward?
We’re looking at upper elementary, middle school and high school students because we recognize if students are exposed to ideas early, they might start talking about and thinking about career paths that might tap into their interest and their passions.
Can you talk about each of the disciplines students take throughout the week?
They take four courses. The first one is an advertising class called “The Big Sell.” They look at advertising and PR, and they actually got to work with a local author of young adult fiction and read excerpts from a new book he’s writing and actually design some feedback for him about an advertising campaign and a title for the book.
Another class they’re taking is called Clay and Creativity. They work all week on different creative projects in the art of clay.
And then they take a sports broadcasting class. They’re actually going to the radio broadcasting lab. In that course, they’re studying how sports tell stories. They’ve looked at commercials for Nike that really don’t show the product, but they might show something that’s more inspirational, or why it takes hard work and sweat to achieve your goals.
And then the other class that they take is a photojournalism class. So they’ve learned all sorts of photography techniques, specifically geared toward enhancing stories.
Next year, the camp looks to expand out its offerings to include writing arts and film courses.
What is the overall goal that you want to achieve?
The overarching goal of this camp is for students who have interests in stories and creative arts to have a venue to express those stories and explore those arts. Too often, summer camps are geared only toward athleticism or music lessons or theater camps. There’s not a lot out there for students who might walk to their own beat, you know, have interests in these areas that might actually turn into career goals for them that are useful to related art areas.
So our goal is for them to walk out of here thinking a little bit more about where art and storytelling is used and how they can apply that in a greater context for themselves.
How can somebody find out about this camp for next year?
If you want to find out more about this camp, the easiest way is to Google Rick Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts; we have a link on our university webpage. You can also go to the university webpage and type in “storytelling,” and it will send you to the College of Communication and Creative Arts. You can also find it on the Rowan Online Marketplace.
See the students’ camp experience in this video:
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Photos courtesy of:
Video edited by:
Khrystyyan Pasichnyk, senior management major
Header photo: Students received a tour of Rowan Radio from Station Manager Derek Jones (left) and Assistant Station Manager Leo Kirschner (right)