As long as I can remember, the best thing about elementary school was summer vacation. I went to different kinds of camps, doing sports, theater, and music. As much as the game has changed in education today (various types of schools, shifts in the Core Curriculum), the same is true with summer camp.

Summer camp is upleveling this July at Curious Jane Camera Obscura, one week of mixed media, creative discovery, and performance in Brooklyn, New York. Created and curated by Founder Samantha Razook, Director of Marketing and Outreach Melissa Coburn, and George Del Barrio, Founder and Creative Director of The Vanderbilt Republic, CJOC is the latest of Curious Jane’s programs, all of which are designed for elementary school-age girls.

The weeklong intensive workshop consists of ten girls entering fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. They will tell their narratives via performances of word, dance, imagery, poetry, and theater. Led by creative female powerhouses, the girls will learn how to strengthen, shape, and share their stories.

In a special collaboration with The Vanderbilt Republic, a creative agency and event innovator in Gowanus, Curious Jane is producing the girls’ performances via Camera Obscura Theatre. To witness images and activity in camera obscura is like seeing things through an upside down, roundabout, kaleidoscopic lens. The Vanderbilt Republic put this process on the map earlier this year with The Middle Passage, a performance art series.

When I asked Samantha why girls about to become fourth, fifth, and sixth graders were the sole participants, she told me, “Girls ages nine to 12 are just about to tip into middle school; it’s an age at which they have tools, ideas, experiences, and the ability to focus them via storytelling techniques. Creative and affirming experiences at this age are critical: they help to build a foundation of confidence and sense of self.”

Appreciating the value of mentorship and inspiration from accomplished and established creative people, I was curious why only women will be working with the young artists-in-short-term-residence. Samantha enlightened me: “Curious Jane builds a community of confident, inquisitive girls who like to make things. Our focus, in any capacity or collaboration, is the all-girls experience. Bringing female artists to work with a small group of girls creates a safe, strong, and supportive place for girls to share powerful ideas and try completely new things.

Suit & Artist believes in the activism embedded in the artistry and community of Curious Jane and The Vanderbilt Republic. If your daughters are about to enter fourth, fifth, or sixth grade and your family lives in the NYC Boroughs, New Jersey, or Connecticut sign up your child for this program soon. Spots are limited and the program is happening July 17 – 21, with performances on July 22. Help your bold, spunky daughter craft things that speak for her and share her skills with a greater audience.


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