Fast Cars, Wine, and Cigarettes: NCC Camps Examine Media Messages

Posted: July 14, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

New Horizons camper

Advertisements don’t always tell the truth about their products, students in the New Century College (NCC) New Horizons and Creativity Camps are learning this week. Faced with images of beautiful, sleek women smoking long, thin cigarettes, or buff men driving even buffer cars, the dozen or so campers from fourth to eighth grade are learning to turn the messages upside down and analyze them for what they really are.

One student drew her own version of a cigarette ad, listing what smoking can give you: a bad smell, yellow teeth, and even death. Another student, in response to an ad for alcohol, wrote, “Wine—it has nothing at all to do with love!”

“The students are learning to think for themselves,” says Suzanne Scott, executive director of the Summer Enrichment Camps. “We’re not trying to bad-mouth these products, but rather look at the messages contained within them. This is the age [10 to14] when kids begin to be aware of media influences, and we get to examine some of these issues and have fun at the same time.”

NCC Camp Horizons
Students in the New Horizons and Creativity Camps make masks to express their unique inner selves.
Photos by Tara Laskowski

But it’s not only media literacy that the camps are introducing to the students. Issues such as school bullying, sports violence, and racism are also dealt with through various exercises, workshops, and art projects. After each session, students sign a pledge that deals with the day’s activity. They promise to think for themselves, not participate in bullying, or not support racism.

“We try to teach them about the differences in people and how to appreciate those differences,” says Assistant Director Alana Weathersbee, a senior BAIN student with a concentration in conflict transformation. “When they leave here, we hope they have a self-awareness of who they are and who their friends are.”

The camp counselors are all NCC students who are educated in multiculturalism, leadership, and problem solving. Scott, who has directed the camp for three years, is an assistant professor in NCC interested in feminist literary and cultural theory. She teaches students to make connections between art and literature and the social, cultural, and political currents of the time.

Tonight, the campers will spend an overnight session in the residence halls, and on Friday, parents are invited for an end-of-the-week party where the students will showcase their art projects.

New Horizons and Creativity Camps are only two of the camps that make up the Summer Enrichment Camps hosted by NCC. Other camps explore science, engineering, and technology; finance and money; and computers. For more information about the camps, visit the web site.

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