Second Annual Youth Architecture Camp


AIA East Bay and Fam 1st family foundation co-hosted the second annual Youth Architecture Camp in June, a week-long program that exposes middle school students to architecture and design-thinking. Campers spent the week helping Josh Johnson and Marshawn Lynch, Fam 1st co-founders and NFL athletes, develop their future Oakland-based youth center.

Youth Architecture Camp co-founders Cameron Toler Assoc. AIA and Jeremiah Tolbert, AIA developed the camp with the support of Jeanette Osborne, Shalonda Tillman and Stephanie Chu, AIAS who assisted in planning, curriculum development and camp operations.

AIA members, design professionals, educators and architectural students volunteered at the camp throughout the week, bringing to life the design profession for the campers, and acting as a sound board as the campers brainstormed and built their models.


“The Fam 1st/AIA East Bay Architecture Youth Camp is important because it’s an opportunity for under-represented youths in our community to be exposed to architecture at an early age. We conceived an interactive, creative, and conscious lab to develop the camper’s perspective through the basic tools of architecture. And whether they become architects or not, it empowers them with design-thinking methods that transcend our industry and are applicable to a myriad of other careers. Also on a personal level, Cameron and I both being young black men in architecture, understand the additional challenges these kids are facing growing up so it’s especially important for us to try and empower them to change their environment… figuratively and literally.”
– Jeremiah Tolbert, AIA, Youth Architecture Camp Co Founder

“The real and most valuable feedback came from the parents on the last day of camp (as) the campers presented their projects to an audience filled with family members, friends, AIA East Bay volunteers, and Fam 1st founders Josh Johnson and Marshawn Lynch. All the parents agreed they never had an opportunity to attend a free architecture camp when they were young, (and) I witnessed a few tears as parents watched and listened to their children present their projects.”
– Cameron Toler, Assoc. AIA, Youth Architecture Camp Co-Founder


“I have been lucky enough to volunteer each year for the Architecture Youth Camp. I always walk away impressed and inspired after seeing the creativity and excitement of the youth that participate. Many of the young people that participate really don’t have an idea of what architecture is at first, but by Day Three they are aware of what it takes to create space. Each year I walk away hoping that we inspired students to not just look toward architecture, but to allow themselves to be creative in whatever profession they want to be in. The skills the camp gives them are more than just how to draw a plan or create a model, it’s problem solving and expressing their ideas. In the end I am always looking for ward to the next year and the next group of students to work with, so here’s to 2016. I Can’t wait.”
– Derrick Porter, Assoc. AIA volunteer

“I was first excited about joining this camp last year (the first year the camp started) because it provided me an opportunity to help teach young students about the role of architecture in society. It was a way for me to provide them what I never had at their age.”
– Omar Haque, camp volunteer


“Working with the kids at  camp showed me that an intuitive sense of designing and anunderstanding of design can come from anyone. The kids at the camp displayed abilities to learn and demon-strate proficiency from hand sketching their conceptual designs to developing their architectural models.”
– Andrew Lau, volunteer

“Youth Architecture Camp was an opportunity to engage with young students specifically on a topic I care about. It is also great to see the unexpected and fun viewpoints of the students, and hopefully to make them think a little differently about the built environment. (The most memorable experience) was the daily one-minute drawing competition—it was a great format to really engage the students with unusual buildings and to quickly encourage them to look, identify and sketch. A lot of the sketches were pretty good, but it is really about teaching them to look!”
– Louise Mackie, volunteer


A special thanks to all camp volunteers: Douglas Wittnebel, AIA; Winston Win, AIA; Kevin Coleman; Omar Haque; Andrew Lau; Raphael Wade, Student Member; Beina Toler; Gray Dougherty, AIA; Derrick Porter, Assoc. AIA; Paul Nabena, Assoc. AIA; Marco Hyman; Jeanette Osborne; Shalonda Tillman; Stephanie Chu, AIAS; Louise Mackie; Devi Dutta-Choudhury, AIA; Ally Watts, AIA.


Email to join our mailing list and receive information on volunteer opportunities for next year’s Youth Architecture Camp. ■

This entry was posted in ArchNews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.