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Youth Designing for Youth

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Last month we hosted our first annual architecture youth camp in conjunction with Fam 1st Family Foundation. Over the 4 day camp, we introduced & exposed 18 underprivileged kids (9 boys and 9 girls) between the ages of 11-14 from East Oakland to the world of architecture. The camp was held in Wurster Hall, which houses the school of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley.

Fam 1st eventually wants to develop a community center for Oakland so the kids were challenged to design and present a new Youth Center as their project to Fam 1st. Prior to the camp, the kids didn’t even know what a section or a floor plan was. However, during the camp they absorbed basic concepts and vocabulary, had sketching exercises, learned scaling techniques, went on a site visit where they did site mapping, created inspiration boards, and built models. When they arrived the first day, they admitted that they thought architects were “nerds” & no one was interested in pursuing the career. By the end of the camp we had a majority of kids saying that they most likely will be architects when they grow up and can’t wait to come back next year.

I’m very thankful and proud of our mix of volunteers as well. We had architecture students from Diablo Valley College, UC Berkeley’s AIAS, the National Organization of Minority Architects members (NOMA), AIA East Bay emerging professional members, and community members with a heart for kids. All these volunteers (mostly emerging professionals) really gave a lot of themselves and it was very apparent to the kids. They were eternally grateful. I personally want to thank all the volunteers for making our camp such an overwhelming success. Also, thank you to Fam 1st for partnering with the East Bay Chapter, UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design for the use of the Cal Design Lab, and thank you to all our other donors. Last but not least, a very special thank you to the man who originally came up with the idea to have a camp, my co-chair and friend Cameron
Toler, Assoc. AIA.

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