Museum Camp

A project of the
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

People x (Food + Place) = Community

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    Trees - taken by youth participant

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    Friend Eating Cookie - taken by youth participant

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    I like it all - taken by youth participant

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    monkey bars - taken by youth participant

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    Team Metacampers

Team Members

Ben Fash
Jessica Fuentes
Maya Muñoz-Tobón
Miriam Bader

What was your hypothesis?

Celebrations around food in public spaces create greater opportunities to reinforce community than what might happen in everyday life.

What indicator did you measure?

A range of community members coming together to maintain positive relationships.
Family members, friends, and organizers coming together and smiling, laughing, handshakes, and hugs.
Participants motivated to attend the event because of the food, location, other community members going.
Kids would document through photographs the food, location specific items, and community members as their favorite part of the event.

How did you measure it?

- 6 interviews with adults exploring motivation for attending, who they came with, know, and frequency of getting together.
- 8 observations (1 man; 5 women; 2 older kids) of number of adults and children communicated with, numbers of smiles, laughs, handshakes and hugs in a 5 minute period.
- 15 photographs taken by kids participating in the event documenting what they found most fun.

What did you learn?

The event created a forum to reinforce the existing relationships between the participants. Food, people, and place made the event special. During interviews, participants stressed how each was significant. Food became a sense of pride and sharing it and talking about it was an important part of the experience. The locations also proved to be special. While many have visited before, it is not a place of frequent gathering within their everyday lives. The amenities of grills, play spaces, tables and nature made it ideal for the event. The executive director of Community Bridges stopped by and remarked how great it was that the center planned the BBQ as "it really builds community."

For some families, the BBQ was a tradition and they have attended for many years. Others shared that, "We will take any excuse to party." Remarks revealed a web of connections between those present. Many came from different neighborhoods and or were related to a camper. There was sense of trust within the community and everyone was helping take care of everyone else, including feeding and watching children. A few shared how they appreciated how the museum has become more geared towards family experiences, offered free and fun First Friday programs, and other events similar to the BBQ.

Overall, people appeared to be enjoying the event and each other. That said, the five minute observations only provided a limited look into someone's full experience of a two hour event. The timing of the observation in relation to the event (beginning, middle, end) greatly impacted what was captured.

Photographs taken by youth feature food, friends, playground equipment and balls, and nature. The "fun" moments they captured highlight how the food, location, and community gathering provided opportunities for them to enjoy themselves and each other, thereby reinforcing a sense of community.

We estimate that 18 adults (not including staff) and 45 youth including campers and guests attended the BBQ.

Any surprises?

Some of our assumptions about the Beach Flats summer camp were challenged. While we had assumed everyone lived within the same neighborhood, we discovered that staff and campers came from a variety of Santa Cruz neighborhoods. The number of adults present also surprised as the event took place in the middle of a workday. We were also surprised by how many attendants brought homemade food to share with them although the center was providing food. Although we were outsiders and were told to be very sensitive to the community, we felt very welcomed by the community and that they were genuinely happy to share their event with us.