An Exhilarating Second Week at Camp: Documented by Kyle Garvey

The second week of Al-Bustan camp was very action-packed, filled with great guest speakers/instructors, unpleasant humidity, and daunting power-outrages. Despite the poor weather, everyone had a splendid time, including myself. Below are some edited vignettes that I would love to share of week 2…

This first video features the musical side of the camp. Mr. Hafez acutely instructs the campers in his master craft of percussion using a few different instruments and the different parts of rhythmic musical notation. He also lets them have a lot of fun with the popular Arabic dance styles. And, Ms. Gaida’s amazing voice and singing styles truly inspire the campers in their singing class.

In this next video, a few very interesting instructional moments are highlighted. The first is the demonstration on Manakish made the traditional way by Mr. Khalil. This made me very interested in the inexpensive method of cooking, using wood and pebbles. Also, Ms. Hazami introduces the teenage campers to the famous Lebanese picture-book author Nadine Touma, because of their exceptional artistic skills relative to her work. Also, Ms. Mary introduces the very fun process of soap-making to Group B. Some very cool soap-sculptures came from this and I hope you all had a chance to view them when they were on display on the evening of the performances!

This video features one of the high points of the camp: a conversation with Nadine Touma via Skype. I found her to be a very delightful woman (as you will notice in the video) and also quite humorous. In addition to Nadine’s input on Lebanon, this video shows Amer and Mariam, two campers from Beirut and their imagery of Lebanon, interviewed by Mr. Musa. Also, the Arabic class learns about the ingredients and preparation of the Arabic salad Tabbouleh.

In this video, Mr. Justin and Ms. Suzy explain their excellent teaching methods in the Drama and Video Production classes. With drama, Mr. Justin’s very creative method of letting the campers form their own stories around a Nadine Touma story whilst incorporating Lebanese culture is a very fun way for everyone. And, the end result of these Drama courses was one very original and entertaining collaborative play. With myself being an avid enthusiast of production, Ms. Suzy, with the video course, absolutely taught the teens a lot of valuable information in the process of putting together a story and a crew to develop a phenomenal short film that spoke to everyone who viewed it on the night of the performances.

Thanks for viewing my edited pieces, and I hope to have a few more for you very soon!

Yours truly,



A Sensory Tour of Lebanon

Last Thursday night a culminating exhibit of the campers’ experience in Art, Poetry, and Science classes transported families and community members from the auditorium in Springside School to Lebanon, the focus of Camp this summer. The campers’ creations in these classes filled the walls of the auditorium, demonstrating their creativity and the rich cultural heritage of this small but diverse country.

As the books of Dar Onboz and the geography of Lebanon informed the trajectory of Art Class this summer, a display of books from this Lebanese publishing house was available for browsing. The books are very visually stimulating—communicating the story line not just through text but also through images, including many collages. Campers made their own materials for collage making while exploring of the six elements of drawing: line, texture, space, value, shape, and color. With these materials they created individual collages while also working on a collaborative collage project depicting the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet.

The varied geography of Lebanon also served as an inspiration for projects in Art Class. Groups Alif and Ba’ used drawing, printmaking, and tissue paper to depict the Lebanon’s mountains, iconic cedar trees, and Mediterranean coastline. This same landscape informed the many poems that campers wrote in Poetry Class.

Groups Alif, Ba’, and Ta’ wrote poems in response to both texts from Dar Onboz and what they learned about the Lebanese agricultural economy and the Civil War, which poetry teacher, Eric Hitchner then assembled in an anthology. Integrating what they learned in Poetry and Art Classes, campers filled 10 feet long scrolls, which hung around the auditorium, with their poems and Arabic letters cut from the materials that they made in Art Class.

Not only did the campers’ work stimulate the visual senses but the scent of orange blossom water and lavender floated through the auditorium. Following the technique practiced in Lebanon of making soap from the country’s abundance of olives, campers made orange blossom and lavender scented soap with science teacher Mary Walsh.

The campers beautifully captured the varied landscape of this country in their art and poetry and their soap serves as a tangible reminder of one of the country’s traditions. The campers’ art, poetry, and soap will act as souvenirs from their cultural visit to Lebanon during this year’s camp.