Every year, when summer rolls around, I remember what it felt like to take the bus home on the last day of school. Three months of possibilities and swimming pools. Often, the promise of summer was greater than its reality. Inevitably, the slog set in, and I itched for more. I played basketball with friends, went swimming nearly every day, and beat every video game I owned, but it wasn’t enough. Summer should be grand, and that’s what Austin Bat Cave aims for.
After a very successful summer 2016, we listened to parents and kids who wanted more camps, more opportunities to express their creativity. Summer Sixteen was about more than just Drake. This year, Austin Bat Cave had nine summer programs covering a range of topics: post-apocalyptic fiction, podcasts, science fiction, animal writing, creating languages, performance storytelling, magical realism, and more. Our camps were located all over the city and brought students in from Manor, Del Valle, Cedar Park, San Antonio, and other surrounding cities and neighborhoods. We brought in stuffed animals and guest speakers. Our kids ate bugs and learned about sustainability. They interviewed game developers and renowned musicians on important topics like mental health. More than fifty volunteers came together and became educators, working one-on-one with students on their stories, poetry, and choose-your-own-adventure games. Students wrote stories and performed for families and friends. They cataloged items necessary for the apocalypse. Campers hunkered down for two weeks and created their own languages OUT OF THIN AIR. They learned about art and life and love and survival. They became writers.
As we step out of the whirlwind that is summer programming, we want to thank all of our partners and volunteers. The Austin community came together and supported our vision of offering creative, engaging programming for kids during these long, hot summer months. We were hosted by the wonderful folks at SmartKids, BookPeople, Austin School of Film, Blanton Museum of Art, Barnes & Noble at the Arboretum, Hotel San Jose, and the Austin Public Library–Terrazas Branch. Generous donations kept us fed, watered, and happy. Big thank you’s to Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon, Walton’s Fancy & Staple, Trader Joe’s, Central Market, Modern Market, Frank & Angie’s, Wheatsville Coop, Home Slice Pizza, and Easy Tiger. Last and certainly not least, thank you so much to all of our wonderful volunteers for being amazing and generous and gracious. I’m the luckiest because I get to work with all of you. Thanks for making this such a wild and fun ride
For a peek at some of the work we did this summer, please listen to our first episode of CaveCast–an Austin Bat Cave podcast made by teenagers.