CAMP keeps the local art scene alive

Courtesy of Rachel Curry
CAMP, Calling Artists, Musicians and Performers is bringing greater arts appreciation and a creative community to Newark.


Rachel Coyne sits comfortably on a broken-in sofa with her bare feet propped up, reminiscing on the early days of her organization, Calling Artists, Musicians and Performers (CAMP).

Coyne, a junior public policy and interpersonal communications major, said CAMP initially stemmed from an offhand idea. During the summer of 2014, after her freshman year at the university, Coyne and a friend decided to form a weekly club centered around the appreciation of the arts, especially poetry.

At CAMP meetings, people read and discuss poetry of their own, or that of a poet they admire. Coyne says that although the meetings are basically freeform, everyone takes turns and everyone talks about each other’s poems. The host facilitates the flow of the meetings and often comes up with other activities.

“At the first meeting, there were five or six people, and every week it was bigger and bigger,” she says.

Coyne says the creation of CAMP was ultimately due to a pressing need to create art with others.

“The main idea was substance free,” she says. “The way I always thought of it was ‘things you’d want to do anyway.’”

Although many of CAMP’s meetings have taken place at Coyne’s own residence, they have recently been hosted at Brew HaHa!, a coffeehouse on Main Street.

Charlotte Shreve, a sophomore cognitive science and philosophy major, has been hosting them since the start of the semester.

Shreve went to Cab Calloway School of the Arts and says she has always had an interest in the arts and writing. She says she got involved with CAMP during her freshman year while searching for a group of people to whom she could relate. After stumbling upon one of CAMP’s Facebook groups, she decided to come to a meeting.

“I thought, ‘this is such a cool concept,’” Shreve said, lounging on a living room sofa. “I didn’t know there was something like this in Newark.”

Shreve says that after attending one meeting, she realized how relaxed and welcoming the environment was and continued to show up.

“You get to hear what’s going on in people’s minds,” she says. “It’s just really cool to see when artists connect with each other.”

CAMP has multiple Facebook pages in which Newark locals or university students can join and find up-to-date information on meetings. Shreve says they also serve as a platform for finding out about other opportunities, organizations and events in the Newark arts scene.

CAMP: Alive Poet’s Society is the primary Facebook group for finding meeting times and places for poetry events. “CAMP (Calling Artists, Musicians and Performers)” is the general Facebook group, while CAMP Opportunities informs users about other affairs going on in Newark.

Although most of its members are around the same age, they are not all from the university. Coyne says that some are local to Delaware, while some go to nearby colleges or universities. Because of this, she resisted the temptation of becoming a registered student organization with the university.

“It’s not forced,” Coyne says. “There’s something really organic about it.”

Coyne and Shreve both say CAMP is an organization that people find when they really need it. They say it’s difficult to go out of your comfort zone and attend a meeting with people you may have never met before, but that it’s ultimately rewarding.

“I want to hear what’s going on in your brain that you’re scared of or that you don’t really want to talk about,” Coyne says. “People are ‘normies.’ They want to do things that make them really comfortable.”

Although the university is not an arts-focused school, Shreve says that there is still an enduring population of creative, talented people in Newark. She says that people need to take the time to search for the city’s artistic side.

Regardless of their busy schedules, Coyne and Shreve both find CAMP’s poetry meetings invaluable and important.

“I might be swamped, I might be having a really bad day, but I know I’m going to feel better after I spend two hours with really great people,” Coyne says.

Shreve says that it’s a great way to get away from life’s daily drudgeries.

“If you’re feeling crappy, chances are this will probably make it better, not worse,” Shreve said.

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