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An arts camp for every child

Options abound, for beginners to budding Barrymores.

Whether your child dreams of Broadway fame or loves to finger paint, there is a summer camp to fit his interests and skill level and your scheduling and budget needs.

Day camp dabblers

Several camps offer half- and full-day programs where preschoolers through pre-teens sample the arts. Progams can last for one or more days, and one or more one-week sessions.

For example, Markeim Arts Center in Haddonfield, NJ offers drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture and drama every week. Printmaking, basket weaving and other arts may be integrated into a particular week’s theme.

Elizabeth Madden, Markeim’s executive director, says, “Classes are equally geared toward the student familiar with media and techniques, as well as the coloring book enthusiast.”

Day camps don’t just teach traditional art forms. At Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, DE, campers ages 4 to 15 work with new approaches such as using recycled materials.

Some day camps teach kids about the world through art. Darlington Arts Center in Garnet Valley, PA, uses music, art, dance and drama to acquaint kids with diverse cultures. In 2013, campers can explore the Serengeti area of Africa, the Amazon rainforest, East Asia and other areas.

Focused programs

Some day camps that offer a sampling of the arts to younger campers also offer camps sessions focused on a particular art to older children and teens. At Community Arts Center Summer Spree camp in Wallingford, PA, campers ages 4 to 11 get a taste of painting, drawing, ceramics, tie-dye and other mixed mediums in their weekly camp sessions, while children ages 12 to 17 can attend afternoon sessions focused on one art, such as photography or jewelry-making.

Residential immersion

For older kids and teens who want to eat, breathe, and sleep art, consider a residential camp. At the renowned Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, MI, campers audition or submit a portfolio for acceptance into a particular art program, such as dance or screenwriting. The camp is highly competitive and trains campers for the possibility of a career in the arts.

Not all residential camps require an audition or portfolio, however. Appel Farm Arts Camp in Elmer, NJ offers campers ages 9-17 a two- to eight-week sleep-away camp experience during which they develop skills in four arts of their choice. Painting, dance, piano, theatre and photography are among the choices.

Theater bugs

Theater camps offer kids who love to sing, dance and act a chance to perform with peers. Wolf Performing Arts Center summer camp offers four 2-week, all-day summer camp sessions for children in grades K-8.

“The beauty of our program is that it is for any kid who wants to explore theater,” says director Betsy Wolf Regn. “You don’t have to audition. Every kid is part of the show at the end of the two weeks.”

Shoestring Productions of Brandywine Valley, in Wilmington, DE, offers a beginners’ theater camp for ages 6-8, a non-musical acting camp and a two-week production camp where children ages 9-17 audition for roles, rehearse and then perform a musical.

Susan Stopper is a freelance writer.

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