7.18.2011

Artfully Disappointing

Eight weeks of summer gone, three weeks to go. I'm ready for school to begin!

Janie Kathryn spent week 8 at Memphis College of Art (MCA) Camp. I do not recommend this camp for younger kids. I was very disappointed! Before I elaborate, I will say that Janie Kathryn had fun and wanted to return each day. So, she did enjoy it. With that said, I cannot express how disappointed I was with the organization of the camp and the lack of professionalism on the part of the MCA Camp staff. 

The Skeen Family will attend the MCA Summer Art Camp Showcase to see and collect what our budding Picasso created. However, we will not recommend this camp to our friends and have no plans to try it again...at least not until she is A LOT older. This is the short version of the story. 
[Please feel free to stop reading here.]


On day one, we arrived to wait in a line that spanned the length of the lobby (30-40 people long), to sign in. After I wrote Janie Kathryn's name on a line and signed my name next to it, I was told that Janie Kathryn needed to go downstairs to the auditorium.

So, down the stairs we went in, in search of the auditorium. At the bottom of the stairs we found a dark auditorium full of every child registered at camp, ranging in age from 5-17. While all the campers congregated, a movie (Marma Duke) played on a large screen at the front of the room. When it seemed like the room was nearly full, camp instructors began to appear and call role. When a camper's name was called, he or she would line up and follow their instructor to the classroom. Janie Kathryn's class was the next to last of a dozen classes to be called. Nervous, Janie Kathryn asked me to walk with her to class, where she kissed me and said her goodbyes outside the door.

Janie Kathryn was signed up for a morning and afternoon class. So, when I showed up to retrieve her, she was with a different teacher. A teacher who required no identification, who let every child comfortably wander off with the adult that came for them. This bugged me, but not as much the first days as it did later in the week. We repeated these steps the next morning, though the sign-in line was shorter and the movie was different.

On the third day things changed.
As I turned to walk down the stairs with Janie Kathryn, a young woman stopped me and said, "You cannot go downstairs, it is too disruptive." Confused by this, I explained that we are merely repeating the routine from the days before. She replied, "I understand, but you were not supposed to do that. It's in your contract."  Shut the front door! Are you seriously talking to a parent like this? I paid 300 freakin' dollars for this camp. This chick is either a really pretentious art [insert bad word here] or a clueless moron with no social skills! I maintained my composure and explained that it is a little unreasonable to expect a 5-year-old to walk into a dark auditorium, where she knows not one person, and has to find her own seat next to a stranger. (Mind you, she could be seated next to a 17-year-old boy!) This woman offered no solution and was ready let me walk out the door, since Janie Kathryn was not about to walk downstairs alone. Irate at this point, I suggested that she have someone walk Janie Kathryn to the auditorium and at the threat of missing camp for the rest of the week Janie Kathryn relented and disappeared with another camp employee.

I want to interject here, to say that there were several upset children in the midst of morning roll call. Janie Kathryn was not one of them. And I can understand how parents walking their children to the auditorium could be disruptive. Children who do not have a parent present might begin to cry when they see another child reluctantly saying goodbye to a parent that is present. However, if the camp was organized better, perhaps campers should congregate by age, there would likely be less nervous children!

When camp was over on the third day, Jorma conducted the pick-up. And once again, the sign-out sheet girl required no ID and the afternoon teacher was releasing kids right and left to the adults that came to collect them. Craziness!

In my experience, parents of only children can be more uptight. In my experience, younger parents can be a little more high strung. However, I refuse to believe that I am the only parent that had a problem with this camp! In the future, MCA would do well to take notes from the Memphis Zoo on how to effectively run a summer camp program.

The Skeen Family will attend the MCA Summer Art Camp Showcase to see and collect what our budding Picasso created. However, we will not recommend this camp to our friends and have no plans to try it again...at least not until she is A LOT older.

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