I spent last week in the company of some of the brightest and most talented teenagers I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around. As one of the instructors in the 4H Technology and Expressive Arts Camp held at Mississippi State University, I spent the week teaching “Graphic Storytelling” to a group of teenagers interested in that art. Other tracks offered at the camp were logo design, dancing, robotics, gaming and creative writing. Dancing seemed to be the most popular track—Dancing with the Stars, I guess?
I’ve taught Graphic Storytelling before and hope to do so many times again in the future. Graphic storytelling is something I enjoy and I like the idea of helping to pass on that love to younger artists. The cool thing is that the concepts work not just for comic books or graphic novels, but also for movies, animation, and even video games.
I was also able to meet the best-selling author Bryan Davis (Dragons in our Midst) and hear him speak at the camp. What an incredibly nice guy he is! I’d recommend picking up one of his books on that fact alone!
But really, I was most impressed by the kids. And before you go there—yes, I probably allowed myself to pre-suppose what the kids were like: this was a 4H camp, after all, they’re used to working with horses and goats and cows. Boy was I surprised. One group of the campers built a robot using legos…and then controlled it with a Wii remote! It was a working forklift robot and it was demonstrated on the last day—I saw the thing work!
Then there was this group of incredibly gifted musicians that played/performed during most of the breaks. Music wasn’t one of the tracks, it just happened to be what they did in between sessions and during breaks. I first heard them and saw the display of talent the first night we were there during a talent show. Seems a bunch of the kids, though, are part of a group called “Southern Sounds” and travel around considerably so that they can perform. Brittany sang Sky Full of Angels for her part in the talent show and was later asked to be a part of the group. Before the week was over, the group was doing several new songs and performed for a luncheon on Friday. Brittany sang Proud Mary with them, a song which she’d never heard before. One of the Moms caught it on video, so I’m hoping to get a copy and post it on Youtube before long. Yeah—I’ll post it here when I do!
One really fun thing I was able to do was teach an entire new group the incredibly awesome game of Diplomacy! I’d planned to only do the game one night, but they had so much fun they demanded I run it the second night as well. A couple of the players even asked me where they could obtain a copy for themselves. Of course, it is out of print so I could only send them to ebay. However, they’ve let me know already that they’ve signed up for an online game.
Needless to say, I learned a lot about 4H last week…and there seems to be so much more I need to learn!