Facebook Twitter YouTube

Annual Projects

We expose students to a wide range of artistic disciplines, but every year we focus on specific themes to give students a deeper experience and a goal to work toward together.

Geography Of We 2013 – 2015

Caldera’s long-term, year-round mentoring program is designed to inspire self-expression and cultivate an appreciation for the natural world. In summer 2012, Caldera adopted a new way of linking art and the environment in our Youth Program, something we call the Geography of We. This multilayered, interdisciplinary project deepens learning and offers variety over the seven-year period that Caldera works with youth in middle and high school.

The Geography of We (GoW) allows students to explore their creativity through transmedia arts—storytelling across different art media—while each year exploring a different environmental theme. These themes inspire our arts activities during the school year and are infused into all aspects of camp life. Caldera youth showcase their imagination and individual voices by sharing their personal stories and describing their connections to Caldera, their communities, their schools, and their families. Every year, new stories will be layered on top of previous year’s stories, so that our youth are building on the artistic traditions they’ve helped create. 

The first year of this project (July 2013 through June 2014)—The Mapping of Story, Memory, and Place—focused on the theme of land. You can view a sampling of projects created around this theme here.

During year 2 of The Geography of We (July 2014 – June 2015), students built on our land theme to include wildlife that share those spaces. Wildlife-themed projects from this year—Humans, Wildlife, and the Habitats We Share—can now be viewed on our Geography of We webpages.


Past Arts Themes

Cinematic Arts 2011-2012

Students had opportunities to explore improvisation, theater, set design, animation, cinematography, story boarding, digital editing, costume design, shadow puppetry, and audio production. Student work was featured at Portland’s 35th Annual Young People’s Film festival and Bend’s Future Filmmaker’s events.

We collaborated with Super Project Lab (www.superprojectlab.org), theater group Whoop-Dee-Doo, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (www.pica.org), Circus Project (www.thecircusproject.org), artist Erin Beaver Valentine (erinbeaver.com), Waterfront Blues Festival (www.waterfrontbluesfest.com), Angelina Skin Care (www.angelinaskincare.com), and Big City Mountaineers (www.bigcitymountaineers.org) during the year. 

ART and DESIGN 2009–2011

Caldera students engaged in a two-year focus on art and design. Projects ranged from architectural design challenges and developing billboards, to creating video public service announcements and a television piece for America’s Most Wanted about child sex trafficking.

Students also created an exhibit on the subject of “invisibility” and how that relates to identity, made an ad campaign for Caldera itself and designed everything from shoes to MP3 players to tea. In fact, Steven Smith Teamaker (www.smithtea.com) now sells Caldera Chai.

Key collaborators included ad agency Wieden+Kennedy (www.wk.com), designer Michael Etter, of re:active magazine (www.reactivemagazine.com), filmmaker Libby Spears, director of Playground (www.playgroundproject.com/film), Mercy Corps Action Center (www.actioncenter.org), Brewhouse Studios (brewhouse.carbonmade.com), LAIKA (www.laika.com), Nike (www.nike.com), Allied Works Architecture (www.alliedworks.com), Ziba Design (www.ziba.com), and Steven Smith Teamaker (www.smithtea.com).

Art and Design project photo


Words Without Walls exposed students to art that originated with the spoken and written word. Caldera collaborated with the Nature of Words (www.thenatureofwords.org) in Bend, Oregon, and our students worked alongside local and national artists such as Bryonn Bain (www.lyricsfromlockdown.com), Patricia Smith (www.wordwoman.ws), Al Letson, Jr. (www.alletson.com), Turiya Autry (www.turiyaautry.com), Chris Haberman (www.myspace.com/habermanart) and Madgesdiq (www.myspace.com/madgesdiq) to interpret traditional poetry, study the history of hip-hop and create and present their own original work.

Student poetry appeared throughout our communities in storefronts, short films, and self-portraits and on coffee-cup sleeves.

Words without walls project photo
Words without walls project photo
Words without walls project photo


Perspectives in Photography provided Caldera students with a thorough examination of the role and significance of photography in various social, cultural and historical contexts. Photographers Tyler Kohlhoff (twitter.com/tylerkohlhoff), Steve Tague (www.stevetague.com), Bobby Abrahamson (bobbyabrahamson.blogspot.com) and Julie Keefe (www.keefeklicker.com) delivered school-wide residencies our ten partner schools.

A huge portion of this year was devoted to the Hello Neighbor Project (www.helloneighborproject.org), in which, under the tutelage of photographer Julie Keefe, Caldera kids went into their communities to interview and photograph their neighbors. The students asked their neighbors if they felt safe in the community, what changes they had seen over the years and what changes they would like to see.

The students’ work became 5′ x 7′ portraits, which were exhibited in their neighborhoods. A public celebration was held in each of the 10 neighborhoods our students live in, for the students to share their work with their community. The project stimulated community conversations, celebrated unseen heroes and broke down stereotypes around age, color and socioeconomic status. Caldera kids learned that saying hello to your neighbors works anywhere; it just requires that you start the conversation, and then listen and engage.

If you are interested in doing a Hello Neighbor project in your community, Caldera is proud to share a curriculum guide. To order copies, email caldera@wk.com.

Perspectives in photography project photo
Perspectives in photography project photo


Celebration of the Drum brought world-class musicians Obo Addy (www.oboaddy.com), Portland Taiko (www.portlandtaiko.org), Catón Lyles (catonlyles.com), Hakim Rashad Muhammad and Brian Davis of Pink Martini (pinkmartini.com) together with Caldera students for a multicultural percussion extravaganza.

Students studied the role of the drum in the cultures of Brazil, Japan and West Africa and did a lot of drumming themselves in school-wide residencies, workshops and public performances.

Celebration of the drum project photo