June 16, 2024

Fashion Design

Fashion Designs that Enlighten the Soul.

Area summer camps focus on fashion design, the blues, and more

6 min read

Summer camp has come a long way.

These days, young people have a variety of options when it comes to summer camps at both Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills and Governors State University in University Park, and creativity and exploration rank high on the goals for their offerings.

“The best thing is being creative – looking at everything and getting inspiration,” said Tammy Pruitt, instructor of the fashion and sewing summer classes at MVCC. “The thing I like to teach most is when the light bulb goes off and the students see their design and aren’t intimidated.”

This is the second summer MVCC is offering the fashion classes, which were so popular the college added a noncredit session in April this year.

“I have some (students) who are really timid and scared and I have some who are on fire!” Pruitt said of the April class. “They know how to sketch and draw. They are all excited and want to be encouraged.”

Last summer’s fashion classes were “the most enrolled classes,” said Liz Micheletti, program manager, Corporate Community & Continuing Education. “The classroom was full of kids excited to learn.”

Tammy Pruitt shows a piece of clothing during a fashion designer class in the summer of 2023 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills. The college will offer four sewing and fashion summer camp classes in June and July. (Glenn Carpenter)
Tammy Pruitt shows a piece of clothing during a fashion designer class in the summer of 2023 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills. The college will offer four sewing and fashion summer camp classes in June and July. (Glenn Carpenter)

She added that Pruitt is a supportive instructor. “I got to jump in the class a few times that Tammy was teaching, and I love how the kids feel open to expressing themselves in the class,” Micheletti said. “The environment Tammy creates is special. They can create different looks, different drawings based on what they like and what they’ve learned in the class. I think that’s so fun.”

Pruitt, a fashion and design instructor, earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design in 1996 and began teaching classes in 2010 after receiving a master’s degree in education. She has high hopes for the summer classes.

“I hope they get inspired to be themselves and not be afraid to create. And I hope they don’t compare themselves. I think that’s the thing they might do. We do have a couple of 16-year-olds. (The younger kids) see them drawing and just watch,” she explained.

Pruitt said she shows them videos of teen designs. “We want to start young and cultivate their gift so even though they’re young they have skills behind them,” she said, adding that she had a few 8-year-old students in her class, which focused on designing a Croc. “An 8-year-old actually took raman noodles and made a design on the shoe. It’s amazing how young they are and they are already gifted.”

The summer’s four classes, which can be taken by someone as young as 8, include Fashion Designer 1 and 2, which cover basics of fashion design; Learn To Sew, which teaches hand sewing and machine parts; and Sewing, Denim Frenzy, where students learn how to embellish denim and create a denim hoodie.

“I would tell them if your kids are interested in fashion and want to grow in this field to come and take the class,” Pruitt said. “I will tell them it’s fun, exciting and it may be a little challenging for them. But I think it would be well worth it.”

In the basics class, students focus on design vs. making an item. “They have to put together a mood board based on what inspiration they want to do. They learn how to put together a collection so they can get a feel for that,” she said. “I would love for them to make a garment but that takes a lot of skill for them to sew.”

MVCC has a variety of summer classes, including STEM sessions and gatherings focused on role-playing games. Fees apply. The catalog is at moraine-valley-community-college.dcatalog.com/v/Youth-Summer-2024. Information is with the Community Education office at 708-974-5735.

At Governors State, a new camp is on the books this year after students who participated in STEAM and theater camps last summer expressed an interest in music.

“It happened at a great time that Fernando Jones, founder of the Blues Camp experience for kids, approached us and said ‘I’m interested in having a camp at GSU for young musicians,’” said Michelle Sebasco, director of Academic Partnerships and Continuing Education.

Fernando Jones, right, instructs a guitar player at one of his Blues Kids camps in 2017. Governors State University in University Park will host a three-day blues camp in July. Auditions take place May 29. (Glenn Kaupert)
Fernando Jones, right, instructs a guitar player at one of his Blues Kids camps in 2017. Governors State University in University Park will host a three-day blues camp in July. Auditions take place May 29. (Glenn Kaupert)

Although returning campers up to age 18 can jump in, the camp, set for July 29 through 31, is aimed at students 10 to 16 years old. “Because they’re in junior high and in the early stages of high school, they bond with each other. It’s a good synergy amongst that age group.”

Thus far several students have signed up for evening auditions, including one May 29, for the camp, which is free. Students will be separated into several rooms, depending on whether they are vocalists or play an instrument. Registration and information are at continuinged@govst.edu or 708-534-4099. Those who make it in will receive a code to sign up for the camp.

“What we’re assessing for isn’t that they’re really fantastic musicians for vocalists. What we’re assessing for is that they really have passion for it and really want to try and that they are students who can receive tutoring,” Sebasco said.

The camp’s goal includes social and emotional learning and music literacy,” she said, explaining that it’s structured like a class. “We’re not just up there jamming.” It also aims to have students think about music as a career and to consider music “as a second language.”

The tuition waiver the kids will receive as part of the program is valued at $1,500 to $2,500, she said. “Everything is free for them. It’s a priceless experience. The Blues Camp kids can go all over. They can do some touring with the Blues Camp Kids Foundation, and we’ve had kids who have done things all through the country” and internationally. She added that GSU will provide five guitars for students who don’t have an instrument, and Jones also will bring some instruments.

The camp was created on Chicago’s South Side in 1989, she said. “Fernando Jones is like a walking, talking blues man. He looks like the Chicago-style blues. It’s cool.”

Jones, a faculty member at Columbia College in Chicago and head of the Blues Kids Foundation, will bring six “like-minded musicians” to help the kids learn to play. “He has a whole bank of instructors coming in, and GSU will have six camp counselors available to the children. So there will be 12 adults in the rooms at all times with the children as they play,” Sebasco said.

The camp culminates the afternoon of the third day with a performance for parents and families. “This is a no-stress environment, baby,” she said. “It’s the blues!”

She said the session is ideal for anyone passionate about music. “They can be a beginner, intermediate. They can be advanced. We’re looking for a combination of kids who love music and want to play.”

Students gather at Bult Field Airport in Monee as part of a STEAM camp offered by Governors State University in 2023. This year's session is in July, and one day will be devoted to aviation. (Governors State University)
Students gather at Bult Field Airport in Monee as part of a STEAM camp offered by Governors State University in 2023. This year’s session is in July, and one day will be devoted to aviation. (Governors State University)

Other summer camps this summer include a STEAM camp mid-July that still has several scholarship openings left so it would be free, a one-day camp July 11 for young adults 17 to 30 with disabilities, and aviation camp in early August. For information about any of the camps, call the School of Extended Learning at 708-534-4099.

During the aviation camp, students 10 to 16 years old will be guided through aviation-themed activities at Bult Field Airport in Monee. An aviation simulator, parachute kites and drones will be used in the instruction. Fees apply.

GSU began offering a ground school this spring, which puts people on the licensure track with the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as a flight program and drone program. Sebasco said they hope the summer camp will “generate some exposure to potential career tracks within aviation for kids.”

“If they are a kid who is interested in flights, there’s this program,” she explained. “With the retirement of so many pilots, there is a high need for trained pilots and also mechanics, airline mechanics. They’ll see all of it. They’ll get to be exposed to all of the good stuff at an airport.”

Melinda Moore is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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