Fay Jones School's Design Camp Expands to Six Cities Across Arkansas This Summer

Design Camp students in last summer's Fayetteville camp analyze their project site, near the intersection of West Avenue and Dickson Street.
Shawnya Meyers

Design Camp students in last summer's Fayetteville camp analyze their project site, near the intersection of West Avenue and Dickson Street.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design will host seven Design Camp sessions this summer around the state — growing from just four camp sessions last year. These weeklong sessions will take place in six cities: Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Little Rock, El Dorado, Wilson and Bentonville in June, with another Fayetteville session in July.

The Fayetteville and Bentonville camps are already filled, but online registration for the other four camps is available on the school's website.

Design Camp offers students a chance to learn about architecture and design and to explore what those look like as potential future careers. The school's camp has continued to evolve as it has gained in popularity over the years. This year, the Fayetteville camp was expanded into two sessions, and camps were added at the Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville and the South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado.

Each Design Camp session incorporates the three disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design and offers projects that include all three design areas. Projects at the various locations include designing a pavilion, a gallery café, an urban public space, and a city (using recycled materials). Students have the chance to learn new skills, including sketching and observation, how to analyze a site, and how to approach a design problem from conception and early ideation through completion.

"As always, we try to mix it up every year by bringing in new professionals, seeing new projects and visiting different design firms," said Alison Turner, teaching assistant professor of architecture and Design Camp director. "Even if a student has been to our camp before, the experience will feel similar, but the content will be new."

With the additional camps, there are now spaces for up to 250 students to attend Design Camp. Last year, the capacity was about 150 students.

The camp sessions will be held from June 10-14 and July 8-12 on the U of A campus in Fayetteville; from June 17-21 at the Arkansas Studies Institute in Little Rock and the South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado; and from June 24-28 at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, the Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville and The Delta School in Wilson.

The Fayetteville, Little Rock, El Dorado and Hot Springs camps are for students going into ninth through 12th grades. The Wilson camp is for students going into third through 12th grades, and the Bentonville camp is for students ages 6-12.

All of the camps make use of their surroundings and local resources, which can inspire the projects that Design Camp students work on throughout the week. For the new camp in El Dorado, Turner said the students' projects will be located near the South Arkansas Arts Center so that students can walk to the site during the week.

"We were approached by the arts center, who had heard of our camp and offered their location for a new satellite camp," Turner said. "It seemed like a perfect opportunity given the many things that are happening in that region in terms of architecture and design."

Both Fayetteville camps will offer a residential option and an advanced level of instruction for returning students or those more experienced in art and design. Students can choose to only attend the day camp, which will end each day at 4 p.m., or to also stay overnight in a campus residence hall. The residential option allows students to experience even more of the campus and engage in fun evening activities. Fay Jones School students will serve as counselors for the overnight campers.

The overnight option has allowed the Fayetteville camp to become a destination for students from a broader geographic area. This year, students from Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas plan to come to Fayetteville.

Last year, more than 100 students attended the sole Fayetteville camp, with about half of them in the residential portion. Turner said she quickly decided to grow the Fayetteville camp into two sessions for this summer after last year's camp filled up more than a month before registration closed.

"I realized that there was a need to expand this camp, particularly because the overnight option of staying in the residence halls is very appealing to students who live beyond Northwest Arkansas and even out of state," said Turner, who also serves as the school's director of community education.

Design Camp is a big part of the school's community outreach programs, which aim to provide general design education to young students and other community members. Even if those who attend camp don't choose design as a career path, they will have a broader appreciation of it in their lives.

"One of the things we try to do with all of our camps is to give students an idea of what it is like to be an architect or designer," Turner said. "This helps the students see if these professions are the right fit for them."

Another objective is to give students a preview of what being a student in the Fay Jones School is like by introducing them to university life and showing them what it takes to prepare for and excel at the U of A. Being able to try out life as a design student has paid off; this year, there are 25 current Fay Jones School students who previously attended Design Camp.

"Particularly at our Fayetteville locations, we bring other aspects of the campus into the camp to give students a sense of what it would be like to be a student at this university," she said. "We visit the Student Success Center in the student union; we eat lunch in the dining halls a couple of times during the week; we tour the campus and visit the library. And for the students staying overnight, they get to experience dorm life as well as more of the campus in the evenings through supervised activities."

Fay Jones School faculty members and students also help with Design Camp in various ways. Faculty members from all three departments develop the curriculum and lead projects and activities during the camp. They collaborate and plan all year to decide how the three design areas will be incorporated into the selected projects. Fay Jones School student teaching assistants help these faculty instructors. There is typically one faculty member for every 15 students, and one teaching assistant for every 10 students.

"Our students are great. They bring something to the camp that the faculty cannot, which is their immediate experience of being a student at the U of A and the Fay Jones School. So they can answer many questions that students may have about campus life — being a design student, other organizations on campus, student living, etc.," Turner said. "They also have had enough experience in design studios that they offer supportive and insightful feedback to the Design Camp students on the projects they are working on during camp."

The remaining four open camps are $375 for regular registration by May 24. Garvan Woodland Gardens members receive a $100 discount at the Hot Springs camp. A limited number of need-based full and partial scholarships are available. Details and registration links can be found on the Design Camp page on the school's website.

Design Camp is supported by a grant from the U of A Women's Giving Circle.

For more information, contact Ansley Higinbothom at higinbot@uark.edu or 479-575-4907. 


Shawnya Lee Meyers, digital media specialist
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4744, slmeyers@uark.edu

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu


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