Everyone is creative. In some it just lies dormant. In others, it is yet to be discovered. We must help children develop individual creativity because it is an important part of the whole person a child is becoming. The body is the physical form of a whole person; creativity is an intrinsic part of each of us. -Sandra Bright, founding Director, GAC
Our Art Camp Programs
Since 1997, Grace Institute’s signature program, Grace Art Camp, has been dedicated to creating awareness through art, culture, and story in a process-oriented environment for children, ages 4-12. Summers consist of a cultural or regional focus consisting of seven one-week long sessions (eight weeks of camp will be offered summer 2021); 3-day Winter and Spring Break Camps honor seasonal themes of peace and renewal.
Art studios are led by professional artists and offer a variety of experiences and skills in the visual & performance arts, storytelling, fused glass, ceramics, and fibre. High school and college youth lead and support the campers in all activities in a caring and nurturing respectful way. Studio projects and activities are inspired by the “story of the week” culminating in a weekly celebration to honor the community cultivated over the course of the week together.
By fostering a collaborative, process-oriented and diverse community, children and staff alike have the opportunity to discover something about their purpose in the world. Grace Art Camp was developed around the premise that inherent within the creative process there are opportunities to create awareness, understanding, and compassion for ourselves and all humans everywhere. Through this process we can encourage each other to be curious, responsible, and compassionate, and to honor each other’s gifts as we learn to appreciate our differences.
Open Registration for new campers began March 1, 2021.
If you transferred from 2020, you do NOT need to re-register your camper(s) on March 1.
See more Registration information for 2021 here.
Summer 2021 Session Dates are here.
During the summer, Art Camp brings a cultural focus each summer to learn about a different region of the world, and its people and traditions, through the universal language of stories and art. Campers attend a single one-week session that is designed for children from Pre-K through 6th grade (or 12 years of age); younger campers must be 4 years of age by March 1 of the year attending camp, and accustomed to a full-day program.
Precautions for Summer 2021
While Grace Art Camp is many weeks away, holding camp safely for all is our top priority. With a smaller camp footprint, we are planning for stable cohort color groups of 12 or fewer campers, set directional 3-studio rotations per day, and five outdoor studios including a very large, tented and floating floor outdoor gathering space in a section of our parking lot. For indoor studios, we will have continual air movement with virus level (MERV13) air filtration throughout the campus. All windows will be open and constant cleaning will be deployed. Camp will include mask wearing by all, social distancing as much as possible, mindful hand washing, and outdoor-only (mask wearing) singing. Split lunch rotation (outdoor as much as possible), and socially distanced recess planning is still under careful consideration and planning.
We closely monitor recommendations from the CDC, OHA, ODE and American Camp Association, paying special attention to guidelines for camps and schools. Grace Institute is fortunate to have the oversight of a Portland Community College safety compliance officer, who assists in implementing complex health department rules into best practices to ensure the safest possible environment for our campers and staff. In addition, we continually consult with current elementary school teachers, OHSU medical staff, and other healthcare professionals. Our year-round and seasonal staff are all slated to be fully vaccinated for a safe, joyful, and creative Grace Art Camp this summer!
A 3-day camp during the winter holidays embracing the longing of people of all ages and backgrounds to live with ease, emphasizing peace as a personal practice. We make space for peace through the creative process of mindfulness, painting, sewing, storytelling, and other creative outlets, sometimes resulting in a community service project. Designed for children in 1st – 7th grade.
This 3-day camp celebrates the resilience of the human spirit through story and art, exploring themes of renewal and the strength of blossoming in community. Inspired by a springtime story, campers rotate through two artist-led studios daily, exploring theatre & storytelling, visual arts, fibre arts, fused glass and/or ceramics. Designed for children currently in K – 6th grade.
The larger summer Grace Art Camp’s basic routine includes daily studio choices spread out over the week; the smaller 3-day Spring and Peace Camps follow a condensed format where campers stay together in color groups rotating through two studios each day, Monday-Wednesday. Youth and young adult counselors provide leadership and role modeling for campers and include songs and games. We all sing and practice the “Four R’s” of Community: respect, responsibility, resourcefulness, and receptivity. Just ask any camper to sing “The Four Rs of Community”.
What a day of summer camp typically looks like (2021 is a bit different!) . . .
We have three assemblies each day, creating a loving, respectful and supportive community.
8:45 – Campers gather in their assigned color groups for sign-in.
9:05 – Morning Assembly (our ritual for beginning each day with greetings, music, singing, story-telling, and daily studio presentations).
10:00 – Morning Studio, including a snack.
11:30 – Lunch/recess and Midday Assembly bringing everyone back together for songs and special guests.
1:00 pm – Afternoon Studios.
2:45 – Campers rejoin their color groups for Afternoon Assembly and the day’s sharing.
2:55 – Parents sign their children out for the day.
The weekly routine for week long camps. . .
Campers rotate with their “Color Group” through six of the art studios to get a taste for different media. Campers get to know each other and connect with their Color Counselors, learn songs, and play community-building games.
Tuesday – Thursday
One of the hallmarks of Grace Art Camp has always been the opportunity for campers to choose what studio they would like to participate in each day and what they would like to do. Each morning, the older campers choose their “AM” and “PM” studios. Learning how to make a choice and what to do when one’s first choice is no longer available are invaluable skills to develop and an important part of the camp experience. Being creative and resourceful can happen in a variety of ways!
Friday (summer only)
Every camp program culminates into a celebratory tribute to the community cultivated over the week. Families are invited and encouraged to gather with us for the Celebration Parade at 2:45. Since camp’s inception this ritual has continued to evolve as an important closure to each week of camp.
Color Groups help us manage a secure daily sign-in and sign-out process as well as their art work and ensures an equitable age range of campers each week. Campers are divided into roughly grade-equivalent peer groups of 22-24 campers (less in the smaller 3 day camps), two counselors, and 1-2 CITs. For 2021, we will have stable cohorts of 12 campers in a color group.
For friends assigned to different color groups, other than Orange, campers can join each other during lunch, recess, and studio times — Tuesday-Friday, campers choose and attend two daily studios whereby connecting with other campers from different color groups and ages. Color Groups remain together solely for Monday’s Studio Orientation schedule, the T-Shirt Studio, and for the Sign-In and Sign-Out process.
Your child’s color group assignment will be emailed to you the week before your registered and confirmed week of camp. The exact age-range for each color group varies from week to week as ages and grades fluctuate weekly depending upon any given week’s unique enrollment demographic.
Friends may request to be in the same color group at the time of registration and must be in the same grade by January 1 of the year they attend camp together. Only one mutual friend request per camper may be considered.
The Orange Color Group, also known as “Pod”
The younger campers (pre-K through K) are assigned to the Orange group and led by an experienced early childhood education professional. When Grace Art Camp celebrated Pacific Northwest cultures 20 years ago, the term “Pod” was used for this youngest group of campers after a pod of Orca whales, and the name has endearingly stuck ever since.
Pod has a routine designed specifically for young children and young Grace Art Camp first-timers. Their schedule and routine gives them the opportunity to partake in every art studio throughout the week without being overwhelmed. They have lunch and recess together as a single smaller group. Pod joins the other Color groups for all Camp Assemblies which include story-time, singing, sharing, and special presentations.
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