Great Big Art Mash “GBAM” Art Camp

For Children with Special Needs

Summer of 2018 marked the 7th annual Great Big Art Mash (GBAM) summer camp. The camp is a collaborative project organized by the Bay City Arts Center (BCAC) and funded by the Mudd Nick Foundation.

The project was created to provide comprehensive art education to youth with special needs, while providing nearly 25 hours of respite care relief for parents. This camp was initially developed in 2012 by Bay City Arts Center Founder Helen Hill and Board Past President Dia Norris. Through the hard work and dedication of these women, the program was a success from initial implementation.

GBAM provides a week-long art experience for students with special needs and culminates with a community performance and dinner for youth participants, their families and community members. The camp includes visual performing art activities and instruction, group play and leisure, and nutritious meals and snacks. One of the most highly anticipated projects is the “Make a Boat” art project. This is an annual art activity at the camp where we bring in local woodworkers Bill Sherman and Tim Roch to provide power tools and construction support to the students while they build wooden boats from scratch. Each camper creates a wooden boat of his/her own design and then we race them as a group down the stream at the local Bay City Park.

GBAM affords a safe, well supported environment for students with diverse needs to explore, share, learn and create with a focus on fun rather than an end product. Youth are encouraged to let their inner artist shine while working with a variety of art mediums that stimulate the mind and provide specialized learning tools and textures targeted towards the individual needs of each participant.

Due to the very generous support of the Mudd Nick Foundation we have been able to enhance the program by hiring enough highly trained and experienced staff with specialized credentials and certifications in the Special Education field to provide a minimum of a 1 to 2 ratio of instructors throughout the camp. We have also transitioned to providing meals catered by Pacific Restaurant in downtown Tillamook.

The Pacific Restaurant chefs have a clear understanding of the dietary restrictions needed to support the youth participants in GBAM and have developed a menu for the camp which provides nutritious options that are creative and tasty. Many of the students are introduced to foods that they have never eaten in their own homes and are excited about the new flavors and textures that they experience each day.

Pacific Restaurant also provides all the food for the final performance meal on Friday night of the Camp.

In 2017 GBAM was awarded a grant from Trust Management to purchase African Drums for the camp. Historically we have borrowed these instruments from local schools and we are fortunate to now have a set of our own. Drumming is a cornerstone of the camp along with dancing. The past two years we have been fortunate to have highly talented instructors with dance instruction expertise lead the students in a choreographed dance performance, which when coupled with the drumming has led the students to a very well-rounded music and visual performance learning experience.

The BCAC is so very grateful to the Mudd Nick Foundation for continued support of GBAM. We would not have the ability to continue this vital community program without your support and from the bottom of our hearts we thank you!