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GROUP RETREAT | College course

May 2021

Graphic Design Professor Noel Lorson brought her summer school "Design Camp" students to engage in a disconnect to reconnect activity at the start of the session in May. Before arriving at the camp, the class was able to visit The Elephant Sanctuary visitor center in Hohenwald to learn all about their museum quality information design and interactivity space created by a prominent design firm. This two night Design Camp event as the introduction to a two week summer session on campus offered an opportunity for numerous students to tent camp for the first time in their lives. As a group they immersed in camp activities including cooking by the campfire. As the sun went down, the students socialized with the 5 artists in residence at the same time as their stay.

The students spent the first morning exploring the land in a guided Forest Therapy session that included time for them to sketch and create plein-air as well as collect natural objects for a watercolor workshop taught by artist-in-residency Jess Belangee-Englert the following day before they departed.

Forest Therapy is based on and inspired by the practice of Forest Bathing in Japan. It is a guided experience that encourages participants to go slow and notice details which is critical skill for artists, especially designers. Val Sloan, the founder and director of the residency, is certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy as a guide.

After lunch, the students were on their own for a bit and many chose to sit and draw inspired by the natural surroundings. It is most likely this was also a bonding experience for this group whom may have been strangers upon arrival, just like summer camp.

The other workshop that they participated in was for collage taught by Val who is a former graphic design professor with more than 20 years experience. Val would often teach collage as an introductory assignment to help improve student sense of composition, shape, color, and texture as well as a precursor to the techniques available in digital technology with Photoshop. This group opportunity had much one-on-one interaction with each student to provide tips and coaching on their compositions.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly for some of the students they spent time with the donkeys. The camp donkeys are delightful, joyful creatures that provide a unique opportunity for individuals, particularly those that reside in a more urban area, to interact almost in a pet therapy role.

The Lemon Lodge and the land are available for more group activities like this summer course. Based on the planning, groups may also have the opportunity to utilize the Raspberry Residency House for lodging. What type of class would you bring to the camp?

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