CHARLESTON, S.C. (courtesy charlestonsouthern.edu) — Observations made while working summer camps for Parks and Recreation in Columbia during Ashley Drayton’s high school and college years laid the groundwork for the creation of Camp Artism.
Drayton, a 2010 communication with theatre emphasis graduate of Charleston Southern University, observed during her years with Parks and Rec that those with special needs were not championed in the camp environment.
Drayton, an actress, model, and philanthropist, established the House of Artists Foundation in 2017. The Atlanta-based nonprofit offers vocational training programs, independent living skills, and creative arts events such as Camp Artism, for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Camp Artism was held for the first time in Charleston April 11-16. The camp partnered with Charleston Southern to use university facilities for some of the camp activities for up to 20 artists age 12 and above.
Drayton credits some of her CSU peers with pointing her to resources in Charleston that aligned with the foundation’s mission, and with resources for providing artist scholarships. Drayton’s former theatre professor, Thomas Keating (CSU’s 2021 SCICU Excellence In Teaching award winner), is serving as the camp’s liaison at Charleston Southern.
Some of the activities happening on Charleston Southern’s campus include underwater photography in the campus pool, video editing, and North Charleston Police and Fire departments will provide interactive activities and a driver education course using golf carts.
Drayton has witnessed Camp Artism artists experience personal breakthroughs through the peer-focused art environment. Parents have breakthroughs as well when they see how their children are thriving.
Camp Artism is run like a production set. “Everyone works together, and the artists love it,” said Drayton.
Drayton says she learned along the way to be more self-aware and more aware of others. She said, “I can only do the best work outside of me when the work has been done inside of me. I made a conscious effort in 2017 to really focus on my relationship with God and my relationship with myself so that all parts would thrive together from a very authentic space.”
Drayton earned a Master of Fine Arts from the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles location. She also founded House of Artists, which offers housing to artists working on location in Atlanta and services such as audition taping and a photography studio. She received the Rising In Community Excellence Music and Arts Award in 2019.
To learn more about Camp Artism and the House of Artists Foundation, visit houseofartistsfoundation.org.