Governors Island Welcomes Beam Camp City
Aug 4, 2021 3:15 pm
New to Governors Island, Beam Camp City is a day camp run by Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization (and year-round Governors Island tenant) Beam Center that aims to make outdoor activities accessible for New York City youth. Beam Center strives to build communities and bring together youth through engaging projects.
Beam Center’s main mission is to create an outdoor camping experience for New York City kids and to provide space for campers to express their creativity, explore their identity and contribute to a shared experience. Previously, Beam Center spent its summers exclusively at its summer camp in New Hampshire.
With outdoor open space growing more limited in New York City, Governors Island is the ideal location to create Beam Camp City. Intended for city kids and run by city residents, Beam Camp City is a safe space for children to experience the best of what Beam Center has created in New Hampshire, but much closer to home. Surrounded by the Island’s lush foliage, kids spend most of their time outdoors learning about their physical surroundings.
Growing up in New York City, some children may not otherwise have the opportunity to isolate themselves with trees, flowers and, insects. At Beam Camp City, kids are using their natural surroundings to make art and reinforce their level of awareness for their physical space. The Beam Center team has found that building this relationship with the environment and their community can expand campers’ perspective and creativity.
Beam Camp City’s fluidity and flexibility is what makes this summer camp experience so unique. Youth members and leaders listen to what campers have to say. As the children offer their own feedback and experience, camp staff emphasize how important it is that the campers know their voices are heard. The camp curriculum and programs are based on campers’ feedback and interests.
Not only is there a powerful connection between the campers and staff, there is also a large network of community support involved in the camp experience. Brian Cohen, Executive Director of Beam Center, says, “We are connected to the city ecosystem of education—we are working hand in hand with both the Department of Education, the Department of Youth and Community Development and other community-based organizations to make this happen. This is a cross-sector partnership, we are not trying to do this on our own.”
For the summer 2021 season, campers partnered with mixed media artist Ye Qin Zhu to create CONSTELLATION, a series of six sculptures made of welded steel and silt-cast ceramic bells, installed across Governors Island through October 2021 to create a literal constellation of ringing bells.
Marisol Castaneda-Salgado, Beam Camp City Director, says, “After a year of isolation and a global pandemic, plus everything that really affected children and youth in New York City, this project gives them an opportunity to see each other.” Along with giving campers the opportunity to see one another, Governors Island’s hundreds of thousands of visitors are engaging with the project as well, further emphasizing the interconnectedness between visitors, the Island and art.
By employing hundreds of city youth each year and inviting campers to get involved through feedback and participatory artwork, Beam Center is working hard to expose the next generation of New York City residents to art, teamwork, environment, and—most importantly—themselves.
Beam Center’s youth Documentation Team has created a photography exhibition titled The Light Show: Beam Camp City, Summer 2021 featuring the photos, they captured throughout their summer on Governors Island. Visitors are invited to the exhibition, open on August 7, 8, 14 and 15 from 11am to 5pm, in Colonels Row Building 407A. RSVP here.
Visitors are also invited to attend Beam Center’s Inventgenuity Festival! All ages from 6 and up are welcome and invited to participate in festival activities. To RSVP click here.
For more information on how to get involved, click here.