Art in the Garden Summer Camp

Support Art in the Garden Campers!

Personal Info

Donation Total: $50

Our goal of $5000 will fund camper scholarships. The actual cost per camper is $400 per week. Registration is limited and, in the interest of equity, at least half of the spots are reserved for campers who identify as low-income and/or are of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx heritage. 79% of our campers receive scholarships.

Your support makes it possible for under-resourced students to attend Art in the Garden’s six-week summer camp.

Art in the Garden’s programs seek to address the impacts of childhood adversity and trauma on health and learning. Art in the Garden is LGBTQ+ led, trauma-informed, culturally responsive, liberatory, and joy-centered. In the last few years states have advanced a record number of bills that attack LGBTQ rights, especially transgender youth. Art in the Garden’s work to create spaces that are inclusive, welcoming, and foster belonging for trans and gender diverse individuals is especially vital in the face of this continued legislation. We want, in the words of Margaret Walker, “to fashion a world that will hold all the people.” More information here.

What does summer camp include?  

Trauma informed care training for our teachers, staff, and community members prior to the start of camp; this crucially includes supporting transgender and gender diverse individuals and anti-racist and restorative justice trainings. This work is central to dismantling unjust systems, helping youth feel safe and valued, and building communities based on love, solidarity, and joy.

Teaching artists and ecologists empower youth and build confidence, giving youth opportunities to experience themselves as agents of positive change. Arts and ecology partners include Bird Lab, Pittsburgh Forest Garden, Sankofa Village of the Arts, The Andy Warhol Museum, Zart, and The Mural Art Project, led by Max “Gems” Gonzalez, Shane Pilster, and Jerome “Chu” Charles, in collaboration with Rivers of Steel and HCUAP. Campers build community and are empowered to challenge barriers and give voice to their dreams. 

Youth learn ecological-literacy skills and stewardship principles by engaging with compassion and curiosity with the animals, plants, and microbiome of the soil and by learning habits and practices that conserve energy, prevent air and water pollution, reduce waste, and regenerate the health of ecosystems. Campers and their families are invited to make the garden a space of joy and healing, a place where they come to feel rejuvenated and to care for and experience the bounty of nature.

A licensed social worker is on site three days a week, supporting campers and staff and connecting families with resources. Our counselor’s therapeutic approach is holistic, nurturing, responsive, and curious, and often incorporates mindfulness, movement, music, and art.

Teen counselors develop leadership skills through working with campers and participating in all aspects of camp, including arts, ecology, and mindfulness activities; these students are placed with us through a partnership with the Latino Community Center and Youth Enrichment Services.

Free breakfasts and lunch daily are provided for campers and teen leaders through a partnership with Earthen Vessels. Research indicates that 1 in 8 children go hungry in the summer months when they are not in school. Providing summer meals helps to fill the gap in this critical area. 

We are a community that embraces our intersectionality, welcomes the whole of each person, and values our interconnection. Art in the Garden supports each youth’s ability to thrive and live their fullest expressions of themselves.

Our Steps

  • OMA Center for Mind, Body and Spirit and Art in the Garden’s Trauma-Informed Care training for teachers, staff, and community members will be held Saturday, June 24, from 9-12 (virtual). If you are interested in attending this training, register here: 
  • Art in the Garden’s summer camp runs Mondays through Fridays for six weeks from June 26th – August 4th
  • Campers participate in planting and tending fruit trees, native pollinators, cook with food and herbs they grown and harvest in the garden; they create lasting murals that celebrate and affirm campers’ identities 
  • Art in the Garden’s Summer Festival will be held on August 4th; this celebration is open to families of over 100 registered campers, inviting them to share in the harvest and making the community garden a truly public space, knowing that they can return again and again throughout the seasons

Why We’re Doing It

We believe in systems powered by love and justice.

We believe all people have a right to easily access and enjoy green space.

We believe it is morally imperative to prevent early childhood adversity.

We believe that when we grow in connectedness to ourselves, each other, and the earth, we are able to create healthier communities.

We believe mindfulness practices have the power to help youth as they work to reframe untrue and distorted or limiting beliefs and that this can create space for the positive transformation of self, family, and community. 

We believe that all people deserve access to healthy food.

We believe that transgender rights are human rights.

We believe in an environmental ethic that sequester carbon, creates wildlife habitat, and increases biodiversity for the benefit of all beings.

We believe in the transformative power and healing potential of art and nature.

There’s magic in being seen by people who understand—it gives you permission to keep going.
―Alok Vaid-Menon