Debuting its Boston chapter this summer, BranchOut! partnered with the Community Art Center (CAC) in Cambridge, MA by supporting their Art Rocks! summer camp. The Community Art Center was first founded by local parents in 1937, and has since provided a welcoming community space for generations of families. Its mission is “to cultivate an engaged community of youth whose powerful artistic voices transform their lives, their neighborhoods, and their worlds.” BranchOut! is honored to support an organization with such a meaningful mission and such strong community roots.
During the ArtRocks! summer camp, elementary school campers develop artistic expression, attend educational field trips, and participate in outdoor summer activities. BranchOut! mentors were honored to support this mission by cultivating meaningful relationships with the campers and providing a variety of support to the staff. BranchOut! mentors volunteered at the CAC, helping with the morning routine. They arranged the space and served breakfast to start students’ days off right. They engaged in activities with the campers as they arrived and built connections. Lastly, mentors supported the overall running of the camp by engaging in organizing and cleaning tasks to help the staff prepare for the rest of their busy day.
Our BranchOut! Boston mentors reflected on their favorite moments and lessons learned from their time at CAC:
Jonathan, rising 9th grader: Volunteering at CAC was an enriching experience. This taught us how to communicate efficiently and get along with kids in all sorts of environments and with kids of various ages. This work required adaptations and quick thinking to be ready whenever an adult needed our help or be ready if one of the kids approached us with questions.
Ethan, rising 9th grader: The two weeks I spent at CAC was one of the most enriching and unique things I did this summer. Although in the beginning, it was difficult fitting in and getting to know the kids, after a couple of days it became much easier. The staff showed us how to help out both the kids and the Center in general. From helping kids with art projects to serving them breakfast, all of it was fun. The kids ranged from lower school (k-2) to upper school (3-5): the younger kids needed more help and the older kids were louder and more energetic. Overall, this experience taught me that while kids need supervision, that supervision doesn’t need to be strict. It can be both useful and fun. This experience taught me that having fun with kids within the boundary of supervising them is the best way to help out both the kids and the staff. The cleaning and organizing part of my responsibilities, not only helped the staff but also helped the janitor.
Annie, rising 8th grader: The 2 weeks that I spent my mornings volunteering at CAC was a pretty fun experience. The kids are all very energetic and they were fun to work with. It showed us how they run their camp every day and some required cleaning that wasn’t too hard. Overall it was a good learning experience!