Posted May 19, 2017
By Darrel Swann, Faculty
After getting his BA at Boston College, Darrel studied screenwriting at New York Film Academy. He has been working at the Jacob Burns Film Center since 2009.
Our film and media camp at the Media Arts Lab offers a wide variety of activities and often the child who loves to act isn’t the same child who loves to sit at a computer for hours editing. My mindset is that you have to try it all. Remind children that even if they don’t love a particular activity it can often make them better at things they do love. I often tell the child who wants to be a director, but doesn’t like acting, that understanding how actors think will make you more empathetic towards them. In short, it’ll make you a better director.
The same can be said for sports. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that cross-training, or playing a variety of sports and games, is the safest and healthiest way for young athletes to develop physically and prevent injury and burnout. Encourage your child to try everything. Tell them to take a back seat if they aren’t confident or comfortable just yet with an activity. When it’s time for an activity they do love, then it’s time to be a leader and help others to improve and enjoy the game.
Leadership: Leading peers is a practiced skill. Whether it’s getting friends together for a game of touch football or creating a YouTube channel about your camp experience, encourage your child to try and start something fun. Learning to get friends and peers invested in an idea is hard enough, getting them to work for that idea is even harder. Tell your daughter or son not to fear if the project ends up different than they expected. Remind them that if everyone has some investment in the process then you’ll be way more likely to get that video made or have that flag-football tournament, and that’s the goal.
Collaboration: Working with peers is an invaluable skill and campers, especially at sleep-away camp, often have more time and freedom to do so. Remind your child that while it’s important to lead, it’s also important to support other people’s projects and ideas. Being a good teammate is a vital life skill and important for reaching personal goals. Nobody wants to collaborate with people who just make demands, so being open to the ideas and input of others will only create strong friendships.
Friendships: I think specialized camps, and all camps really, offer kids a great opportunity to make friends that share a personal interest. Kids tend to adopt the interest and hobbies of their friends, which can be good or bad depending on the friends. I think it’s a shame to let interests go by the wayside, not because of disinterest, but rather because there is nobody to “play with.” I use that term loosely, but as far as filmmaking goes it certainly helps to have a group of willing and invested friends to work with. Just look at this year’s Oscar winning Best Director Damien Chazelle and his college roommate and long-time collaborator Justin Hurwitz, who also won two Oscars this year—Best Original Score and Best Original Song. I think finding friends that share a common interest can be the difference between a life-long pursuit or fading into a passing hobby.
Learn more about Summer @ the Lab here.