We love whenever Aaron Goldschmidt—the founder and director of Shine—is at the Museum. Whether he’s teaching a class or running a camp, his passion for education (and life in general) is impossible to ignore. With Shine Saturdays coming to an end and Shine Camp just a few weeks away, we thought it the perfect opportunity to speak with our neighbor-to-the-north (he lives right down the street from CMEE!) about working with kids, what to expect from Shine this summer, and how he likes to spend what little free time he has.
What makes Shine shine?
The name came from my belief that within every child is a light. It is our job as educators, mentors, and adults to help them shine. Part of what makes us so successful is how we talk to and communicate with kids. Through all of our creative arts programming—from camps to classes to parties and events—we focus on practical, social, and life skills to create critical thinkers, responsible citizens, and thoughtful humans. If we are raising a generation to change the world, these qualities are more important than ever.
You’re a natural when it comes to working with kids. How did you discover this talent?
I have been working with kids since I was a kid so it has always been something I gravitated towards. Before I committed to a life in education, I was a performing artist. The training I had at NYU laid a fantastic foundation for working with kids. The ability to improvise, adapt, and really listen are qualities that both performers and educators must possess. That, and a very loud stage voice!
What’s something that surprised you when you first started Shine?
I am constantly amazed and surprised by how endlessly fascinating kids are. I learn something new from them every day.
But I have truly been surprised by the response from places like CMEE. To be given the “stamp of approval” by an organization like yours keeps me going and is a reminder that we are doing good work. I have been so fortunate to have been embraced by the East End community and invited to run our programming at so many incredible and iconic locations. That support means the world.
This is your sixth year running a camp on the East End. What about the area makes it so appealing for kids?
What doesn’t make it appealing?! It is absolutely spectacular out here and we utilize that as the backdrop to almost everything we do. We spend two days a week outside, surrounded by nature (at LongHouse Reserve and Bridge Gardens) and every Wednesday we get specialized lessons, nature walks, and private instruction at SoFo. Each Friday we pop-up at an iconic location like Nova’s Ark, Madoo, Wölffer, and more. Our curriculum celebrates local art and artists, architecture, history, animals, the beach, the bay, and beyond!
What’s a typical day at Shine Camp like? What can kids expect this summer?
I think what kids can really expect is a small, creative environment being led by artists and educators who all believe that camp should be fun. I like to create an environment in which kids have a choice between some pretty awesome activities or just hanging out with one of our teachers and just being kids. That being said, each day is its own East End adventure depending on where we are. We start every day with a camp-wide morning meeting which gives us all the opportunity to share, listen, and talk about our plans. Then we are off!
When you have the rare day off, what do you like to do on the East End?
If I’m not working, I’m probably at the beach. I try to spend as much time there as I can…Peter’s Pond is my spot. I also love to cook (and eat) so all the amazing farm stands and their deliciousness provides me ample opportunity to entertain at my place in Sag Harbor. I love being at home and having friends over.