Campers at Providence Day School’s Summer Programs sashayed down the runway in their own designs on July 18 as part of Project Runway camp.
Providence Day School’s Summer Programs offers nearly 300 camps for various ages, hobbies and interests.
“Nowhere else can you break a sweat, create a masterpiece and take home a lizard all in the same day,” Nancy Stockton, the Summer Programs director, said in summing up the offerings on Providence Day’s website.
The Project Runway camp recreated the show the camp is named after, but in a kid-friendly way, said Brooke Fulton, the camp’s director. “It’s for girls to understand how unique they are, to express themselves through design, to find what their style is and then have the chance to create those things.”
Campers, ranging from fifth- to 10th-graders, were given a series of fashion- and design-related challenges to complete. The girls’ first effort was the “Trash Bag Challenge,” where they created a new design to wear out of only two trash bags and duct tape.
“We’re all about learning how to use things that already exist, but turning them into something new,” Fulton said.
What Fulton considered the biggest challenge for the week to be the “Prom Dress Challenge,” where the campers took a used dress and redesigned it.
“They had to sketch out their vision for what they really want their ideal dress to look like – they’re able to make cuts, they’re able to add fabric,” the camp director said. “The whole purpose is for it to look like a completely new creation. It’s the idea of taking something old and repurposing it.”
Adult volunteers and Fulton performed the actual sewing, but the designs were completely the campers’ ideas. “What they have to do is show us through their sketches exactly what they want the alterations to look like,” Fulton said. “They have to learn how to pin the alterations and cut the fabric… it’s a very hands-on camp. It does take a little extra teamwork with that, but it’s by far one of my favorite camps that the company does.”
The entire experience culminated with a runway fashion show for the campers’ parents. The girls showed off their trash bag, prom dress and tie-dyed T-shirt designs.
“I liked creating outfits,” 10-year-old camper Paula Sampaio-Little said, “I liked trying things together and different styles.”
Campers went home with a “look book” containing magazine clippings and their personal sketches. “At the end of the week, they’ll have a lot to take home with them to represent to that experience, but also to say ‘this is my style,’” Fulton said before camp ended. “Your style and fashion is everything that you do: from your haircut to your nails to your accessories to the clothes that you put on each day to the shoes that you put on. Some of them found what they tried originally didn’t work that well, so they tried it again.”
But Fulton hopes the girls take home more than just sketches and a new appreciation for design. “What I want them to take away is that it’s OK to be an individual, it’s a good thing to be an individual, and there are so may ways to express yourself in a positive light – fashion is one of those ways. It’s OK to think outside of the box, it’s OK to try something. It’s OK, too, if it doesn’t work,” she said. “I want them to know it’s about self-expression and it’s about using what you have to enhance your natural beauty.”