New World Architect’s Summer Youth Architecture Camp was a post-Covid-19 Success!

New World Architects, in partnership with AIA East Bay, UC Berkeley, and Fam 1st Family Foundation, held a Youth Architecture Camp last week at the West Oakland Youth Center. Their goal was to expose architecture and design-thinking to our young designers through hands on activities. Volunteers (including two AIA members!) assisted middle school students with developing design concepts, model building, and were general design mentors to our budding designers.

This was their 8th year running this summer camp, because co-founders Cameron Toler and Jeremiah Tolbert “both were exposed to architecture at a young age and we wanted to expose the youth in our communities to architecture in a fun way. “ Plus, as Cameron says, “Black and brown people are underrepresented in the architecture industry. That was clear to me as a child, and confirmed as an adult. Throughout my career I’ve had over 150 co-workers – only 5 are black.  I wanted to, and continue to fight to change those meager statistics – to see more black and brown folx pursue careers in the architecture and environmental design industries,  become agents of change, and better shape the environments we live in”.

Jeremiah said, about this year’s camp in particular, “It was small and intimate.  As we’re coming out of this pandemic, we wanted to be cautious and we ended up with a ratio of 1:1 campers to volunteers.  We are normally about 1 volunteer to about every 3 to 4 campers” Next year, he continued, “we plan to be back in Wurster Hall [UC Berkeley] with our normal amount of campers but with even more volunteer assistance.” This camp could only come together “with the extraordinary assistance of several volunteers, Omar Haque, Stephanie Chu, Shalonda Tillman, Jeanette Osborne, Andrew Lau, and Lucia Castello, and Brije Gammage of Fam1st, we’ve been able to provide great camps every year, benefiting hundreds of Bay Area youth.

Our goals for our students are and were to build upon their self-confidence, broaden their understanding of the built environment, spark an interest in Architecture, and have fun. We do it through tactile learning, presentations, field trips, and workshops. Each year we tackle a new project, sometimes they are real projects based in the Bay Area and sometimes they are completely made up. The first year we challenged our kids to design an Oakland Based Youth Center. This year it was to design a cabin inspired by the egg. No matter the project, we have a good time, we learn about our built environment, and we end the week feeling proud about what we accomplished - adults and campers alike.

Related Articles