RIT faculty brings expertise to Camp Tiger to provide youth with one-of-a-kind summer experiences

Brit Milazzo

Last summer, Alan Gesek, adjunct faculty at RIT’s College of Art and Design, facilitated two summer experiences through Camp Tiger. Here, he works with students involved in Zoological and Botanical Illustration that allowed campers to draw plants and animals in a variety of mediums after connecting with the Seneca Park Zoo to practice drawing from real life.

After graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s and master’s degree more than a decade ago, Alan Gesek had the chance to immediately immerse himself in the career he’s passionate about, and teach other aspiring art and design students.

Gesek, an adjunct faculty member at RIT’s College of Art and Design, is also part of a team that works with Camp Tiger to connect subject matter experts with youth in an effort to provide the most unique opportunities possible that are often facilitated by some of the best in the business.

“I think with camps, it highlights a different aspect of what we do, and especially gets parents interested when there are so many options to choose from and led by people on campus who specialize in the field,” he said. “There are lots of different backgrounds of people teaching the camps.”

Gesek is a longtime medical illustrator who oversees several foundational art and design classes, while also collaborating with clients on a variety of freelance projects. Through medical illustrations, his goals are to create graphics, and help others to better understand the anatomical or scientific concept.

He’s now also able to bring work from the classroom to Camp Tiger that uses his knowledge to work with youth, through past offerings such as Medical Illustration, and Zoological and Botanical Illustration.

“For us, it combines science with the arts, and Camp Tiger does it best,” Gesek said. “In the class I’m teaching, we started drawing observational pieces by looking at texture and tissues, and got into learning (Adobe) Photoshop and Illustrator for design. It’s kind of like camp, but on bigger scale, and is fun because you get to see the next generation of medical illustrators put their spin on it. It’s a really collaborative opportunity to mix what you know from experience and also bring it to youth on a platform that supports this kind of work.”

Camp Tiger is RIT’s annual summer day camp focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math, also known as STEAM. Hosted at Rochester Institute of Technology, and facilitated by the K-12 University Center, Camp Tiger caters to enthusiastic, hands-on learners in third- through 12th-grade. Serving more than 700 students annually, the center is proud to organize the largest and oldest summer camp program at the university.

While the camp aims to connect local youth to fun and meaningful learning environments in various STEAM topics, it’s also a chance to provide the opportunity for faculty and RIT students to share their craft and provide that mastery to others.

“I think a lot of our work is aimed around that – providing opportunities, not only to our campers, but those who we work with on campus,” said Jane Amstey, senior director of Precollege Programs. “We have a number of RIT students who we work with, as well. They have a skill set and we’ve been really fortunate to have been able to engage RIT students in a number of our youth programs.”

Kerstyn Gay is a second-year year graduate student of medical illustration who works alongside Gesek. She said being involved with Camp Tiger the past year has allowed her to gain experience teaching a subject she loves.

“After graduation I hope to teach medical illustration or fine arts at the college level, as well as work freelance on medical illustration pieces,” Gay said. “I grew up coaching swimming, and have always been interested in teaching because it's so rewarding to help students improve and have fun with something that I also love.”

The opportunity for faculty and students to work with Camp Tiger often comes through networking and curiosity about how to further promote the fields they work in to spark excitement within students.

“We’re in the prefect place for that – to allow faculty to branch out and share their skills, and students to outreach with the youth community, and kids to embrace all that RIT has to offer,” Gesek said. “We saw the enthusiasm in their eyes and faces as they were working on real work, on a real campus and in state-of-the-art facilities. RIT is one of the best places in the area for art and for STEM, and we can be a reference point to bring that to others.”


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