Summer Camp 2018

Today was the last day of summer camp. In all, I think it went very well and again I learned so much. What am I going to do with all this information I am learning?

"Expect the best but plan for the worse" is a little extreme to describe my experience, but it felt extreme when I arrived to find the campers so young that two of the children could not even say the "r' sound in words yet and one was missing all four upper front teeth to the tooth fairy. I froze inside thinking of all the planning I did the week prior and wondered if the projects would be too hard for these little darlings.

Children have an such a magnificent gift of "I can do it." And they did. We began with the shoebox dioramas because the paint needed time to dry. They LOVED making the dioramas and worked on the them for the three days. They added grasses, twigs and leaves from the forest floor to make nests, shrubs, and other forest objects.  The dioramas progressed into beautiful works of art.

When I arrived home that first day I began making materials for refrigerator magnets. I decided the magnets would be more manageable than the suncatcher mobiles I originally had planned. We made the magnets on day two, along with upgrading the dioramas.

On the third day, feeling a little more confident, we tried constructing the tube bear and amazinginly these little tykes did it while needing only a minimum amount of adult support. Then back to the dioramas still again.

It was with mixed emotion that I responded to them that they could not make another tube animal because we ran out of time. I was happy to know that they enjoyed creating those.

During this time, I thought about the arts disappearing from our elementary school and after school programs. This week I identified a huge impediment to teaching the arts,in addtion to teacher contracts and evaluations not including the arts in elementary school. I believe the summer camp crafts went well because I had prepared a "kit" for each project which was given to each child. It took several days to research the craft possibilities, work out the details of each project, to create the kits and them to present them this week. What teacher has time to do that?

In our local schools there is a program called Art Discovery. It is facilitated by volunteers who are usually adult family members of the students. These dedicated volunteers work out a specific lesson with a related art and then put together the individual materials for each student they will teach. Kids love it, but unfortunately it is only once a month because the preparation is so intense and classroom time is at a premium these days with the math and science focus.

It was a great experience this week and I did gain a greater understanding why arts are being left behind in the elementary grades in America.

I am taking time off in August to go back to my own art which has been waiting patiently for me in the studio. At 71 years old on Saturday I do not have time to keep putting my own art aside.

I purposefully omitted the location, faces and names in this post. If you want more information about planning to teach summer camp crafts to multiage children or if you have recommendations about teaching art in the elementary grades, please contact me directly at  NWKaty@gmail.com or leave a comment here. Let me know if you cannot enlarge the accompanying image. You won't want to miss seeing the details of what the children created.

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