ideas, observations, and updates

0 Camp Firebelly Recap

July 7, 2010 — 10:10 pm

As anticipated, Camp Firebelly was such an intensive, engaging experience that I was left without time in the ten days of camp write anything here. In case you’ve been wondering about it, I’ll take the time to fill you in. Let me begin by introducing the lovely campers and where they all came from. Pictured above, from left to right starting with the top row…we have:

Kat Marshello – Dallas, TX
Marek Szeszycki – Chicago, IL
Cassie Hester – Watkinsville, GA
Johnathon Strube – Sycamore, IL
Michael Gump Jr. – Cleveland, OH
Ben Wagner – Madison, WI
Stacey Zeto – Pittsburgh, PA
Svetlana Bilenkina – Centreville, VA
Brittany Skwierczynski (me!) – Bensenville, IL
Casey Kovach –  Greensburg, PA

On the first day, I couldn’t have imagined what was ahead of me as I walked up the stairs to the studio of Firebelly. Within ten days we worked on a project for the Young Women’s Empowerment Project from start to finish including the design of logos, postcards, a booklet, and a screenprinted poster; we survived four consecutive nights with two hours of sleep each night; we visited numerous inspirational design studios and spaces including Threadless,
Thirst, Delicious Design League, Believe Inn, and Vosges Haut-chocolat;
we met with families in the Humboldt Park area and designed and screenprinted t-shirts to raise money for their needs; we organized and
set up for our grand finale fundraising party; we had various workshops
about brainstorming, presenting ideas to clients, photographing your work,
and portfolios/interviewing; we dined on delicious food both in the studio and at various restaurants around Chicago; and we even squeezed in some down time where we played rock band, drank beer, and listened to awesome music.

Words cannot begin to describe the most valuable rewards from my time
at Camp Firebelly. When I left the studio on the tenth day, I was a changed person. The group of people that came together for this experience had become what now feels like a family of life-long friends and connections. Everyone brought their own talents and personalities to the team where we could all contribute and collaborate, listen and learn. Together, the Firebelly team and all the campers were capable of anything. If we had an idea we
found a way to do it, no matter how little time and how few resources we had available. We never used the word “can’t”. Sleep wasn’t a necessity when our passion and desire to do good came out to play. After these unforgettable experiences and encounters, I know that I can do anything and that I can contribute to making the world a better place.

I owe a big thank you to:
Firebelly Design for making this possible, staying up all night with us, making sure we had everything we needed, and so much more (Dawn Hancock, Will Miller, Darren McPherson, Alex Killough, Ryan Wolff, and Lindsay McMenamin)
– All my fellow campers for coming together for an opportunity like this
– Lara Brooks and the Young Women’s Empowerment Project for having faith in ten designers’ abilities to meet her needs in just four days time
– Mike Fretto for traveling from Florida to share the concept behind Rosa Loves with us and for helping us screenprint our t-shirt designs
– Reason to Give and Shannon Medic for giving us an opportunity to give back
– Delicious Design League for taking the time out of their day to teach us how to screenprint our posters with their press
Threadless and Mig Reyes for the tour and insight into their process
– Thirst and Rick Valicenti for showing us their studio and presenting some of their innovative and inspirational work to us
– Matthew Hoffman for showing us his incredible work and studio
The Post Family for inviting us to their opening and for showing us support at our fundraising party
Vosges Haut-chocolat for giving us a tour of the facilities and letting us sample the unique ingredients along the way
– Mike Renaud and Zach Dodson of the Show ‘n Tell Show for helping us brainstorm late into the night
– Elevate Studios for helping us learn how to present ideas more effectively
– Unisource and Andrew Dembitz for sharing the latest innovations in the paper industry and for bringing us plenty of samples
– Salsedo Press, Inc. for making sure our postcards and booklets were printed by the end of camp
– Chris Kirzeder for teaching us how to photograph work using studio lighting
– AIGA Chicago for selecting me as the recipient of the 2010 Student Enrichment Scholarship which helped make it possible for me to attend
Camp Firebelly 2010

I wish I could describe the rewards of Camp Firebelly more clearly and concisely but it really is something you need to experience to understand.
I am unbelievably excited to be a part of the design community in Chicago and cannot wait to find out what is in store for me here. A little advice if you’re a designer still in college or just finishing up school – be sure to check out Camp Firebelly next summer. You don’t want to miss it.

Visit for access to our blog posts, photos, twitter feed, and recordings of our video stream from the ten days at Camp Firebelly.

No Comments

Post a Comment