Architecture camp engages new generation of DIYers, creates makerspace

Architect Camp

Eighteen Chicot County sixth and seventh graders were introduced to the world of architecture and design through hands-on activities at a recent architecture summer camp organized by the Alex Foundation and the J. Austin White Cultural Center in Eudora.

The campers were immersed in a different way of learning as they gained the skills to design and build their own structures. They experienced designing, sketching, building, tinkering, drilling, brainstorming, ideas creation, teamwork, project-based and experiential learning, as they created structures with new, used and repurposed materials. They also toured Paul Michael Company in Lake Village to see how interior designs align with architecture.

The architecture summer camp was the result of partnership efforts organized by the Alex Foundation and the J. Austin White Cultural Center.

The Alex Foundation is a nonprofit organization that prepares youth in the Arkansas Delta and Central Arkansas for architecture and design careers and college readiness. The J. Austin White Cultural Center is a nonprofit organization that provides arts and cultural enrichment activities for Eudora youth. The cultural center became a makerspace for the camp – a learning environment constructed to enable students to collaboratively use tools, technologies and materials to innovate, invent, engineer and creatively problem solve real world problems using a hands-on approach.

The camp instructor was Emily Roush-Elliott, an architect who moved to Greenwood, Mississippi from Argentina and Tanzania to work in the Mississippi Delta. A recent alumnus of the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship, hosted by the Greenwood-Leflore- Carroll Economic Development Foundation and the Carl Small Town Center, Roush-Elliott led the Baptist Town Neighborhood Reinvestment project in Greenwood.

Beyond the traditional role of an architect, Roush-Elliott specializes in creatively engaging communities, impacting policy, maximizing funding, and supporting operations of completed built works. She is a registered architect in Mississippi and Ohio and holds a Bachelor of Science in Design from Arizona State University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Cincinnati.

McKinley Thomas, board president of the Alex Foundation, said partnerships with universities, corporations and industry professionals like Roush-Elliott create opportunities for youth that will help them reach their potential. “We look forward to creating many partnerships to help our youth reach their God-given potential and prepare them for 21st century global opportunities in disciplines such as architecture,” Thomas said. “With this, they will have the confidence to know that the sky is their only limit.”

Funding from the Pickens Trust (Dumas), the JAWCC (Eudora), and the Alex Foundation (Chicot-Desha County), made the architecture summer camp possible for all campers to attend daily at no cost to them, their parents/families.

Camp supporters and contributors included Lake Village True Value, Ideal True Value in Crossett, McGehee Lumber Company, Lowe’s of Greenville, the Monticello Walmart, the McGehee Walmart, the Greenville Walmart, Halley Baptist Church, J. F. Wallace Trust, Dillard Funeral Home, The Gift of Love, Loretta Alexander, Bob Ware, Thomas Mills, Betty Dillard, Beth Coulson, Laurie Black and Lillia Catron-Freeman.

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