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Arts Camps: A Happy Picture

Courtesy of the Perkins Center for the Arts

Courtesy of the Perkins Center for the Arts

I’m the mom of two insanely active boys. I have to bribe them with cookies just to color. Nevertheless, here’s why I’m considering an arts program for them this summer.

Children need to unwind. During the school year, kids are under pressure to perform well. Summer art camp is a great time to unwind from a busy year of classes and activities and to experiment with art that kids wouldn’t normally encounter in school or at home, says Jane Chesson, curator of education at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, DE.

Kids explore their talents. Arts camps gives children the opportunity to explore their creative gifts, “both known and those not discovered,” says Lisa Kasser, owner and director of Burn Brae Day Camp of Creative Arts in Dresher, PA.

Arts develop key skills. Exposure to arts, research shows, increases a child’s critical thinking, self-expression and problem-solving — skills your kids can use in the classroom and their other endeavors.

Courtesy of the Delaware Center for the Contemporary ArtsWhat Goes On in
An Arts Camp?

Like most camps, summer arts programs follow a structured schedule with breaks for a snack, lunch and active play such as kickball, jump rope or tag. A typical day includes one or more activities like painting, photography, theater, dance or ceramics.

“Each day the campers work on their projects. At the end of the week, we feature the work in a gallery exhibition and have an Art Party,” says Rachel Ammon, communications director of the Main Line Art Center in Haverford, PA.

Other Parent Questions

Here are other questions art camps are often asked.

• Do I have to buy art supplies?  Most summer arts camps provide the art supplies. “Since our camp is broken down into specific age-ranges, all materials are age-appropriate,” says Ammon. Other programs charge a materials fee, usually due the first day of camp.

• What do kids like best about art camp? “They love the freedom to decide how to approach projects,” says Ann V. Christie, associate director of Chester County Art Association in West Chester, PA. Kids learn there is no right or wrong in being creative.

 • What do kids like least about art camp? No surprise, the least favorite  activity is cleaning up. Camp instructors make it fun by assigning tasks. “Before you know it, kids are arguing over whose turn it is to wipe down the tables,” says Saralyn Rosenfeld, studio and family programs manager of the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE.

• What if parents work? Many camps offer conveniences for working families. Some programs have 9am-4pm schedules; others offer pre- or after-care.

Although the Perkins Center for the Arts Summer Camp in Collingswood, NJ, is a half-day camp, “full-day options are available through a partnership with the Burlington Country YMCA Sports Camp,” says Kate Popelak, an education associate. Perkins campers are bused to the YMCA for an afternoon of sports, swimming and fun.

Deb Dellapena is a local freelance writer.

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