Arts center expands annual kids summer camp


For many years, youth have converged on Southern Indiana Center for the Arts each June to experience a variety of art.

Usually, art camp has been conducted for two weeks, welcoming a different group of kids each week.

This year, there was so much demand that art camp was stretched over four weeks.

The first three weeks were this month, and the final one will be the week of July 10.

“Most of these kids, I just sent out an email to SICA people, and we were pretty much full,” arts center board member Georgiann Coons said. “I had a lot of people contact me that still wanted to do it, so we made an executive decision that we’re going to go the week after the Fourth of July. This is more than we’ve ever done.”

When all is said and done, more than 80 kids — from those who just completed kindergarten to those who just finished fifth grade — will have attended art camp at the center on the north side of Seymour near Rockford.

Coons said there was so much demand this year, she didn’t even have to publicize the camp beyond the email to members.

“It’s a good thing all of these kids want to come back,” she said. “Some of them age out, and then we can get new kids in.”

The stations for this year’s art camp were art, craft, imagination station and music.

Coons chose “Great artists” as the theme for camp. Each morning, she read a book about an artist, and then the kids worked on an activity based on that person. The artists included Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and Wassily Kandinsky.

“I read them a book every morning … just about colors and being an artist and not being afraid. That kind of stuff is really, really important,” Coons said. “Then I tried to do something along the same lines (of the artist), and there is a ton of stuff on Pinterest about great artist projects for kids, so that’s the kind of stuff I looked at.”

Some of the crafts were based on those artists, too. For Matisse, the kids did paper cutting. For O’Keeffe, they made flowers with tissue paper. For Warhol, they had self-portraits to draw on or color. For Kandisky, they did projects with circles.

“They love to draw and they love to paint, so I tried to get them doing something painting or artistic every day,” Coons said. “Then something like this (Kandinsky circles), I consider that a craft. It all comes together as art.”

Imagination station was time for the kids to work on whatever they chose. This year, that gave them time to work on houses made with a foam board base. Several girls made dollhouses. Boys chose to make everything from an aquarium to a building with different things on each of the three levels.

“The helpers here, the high school kids, they taped the houses together,” Coons said. “They started Tuesday and they painted the outside, and then they did the outside Wednesday.”

On Thursday, Coons gave them small wooden people they could paint and put in the building. By the end of the week, they had a fully decorated house or building to take home.

“Of course, what they like best is free time. They like to do their own thing and play,” Coons said.

Music sessions were led by Leah Schneider, music teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School and Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour.

Kids sang songs and learned how to play instruments, including bells, Boomwhackers and guitars.

“I think it’s an important part of art and the arts, and they love it and Leah is so good. She has got so many years of experience with little kids,” Coons said. “She brought guitars one day. That was really cool. She always has them working on singing. It’s great stuff.”

Curry Klakamp, 7, was back at art camp this year. For his foam building, he made an aquarium based on the movie “Finding Dory.”

“Making houses is my favorite thing,” he said. “We discovered artists, and we read books and sang. My favorite thing is having fun and making art.”

Samson Montana, 7, was nearby working on his house and said it was his second year at art camp, too.

“Because I love going to art camp,” he said with excitement about why he chose to come back this year.

Liliana Garcia, 9, also was a returning camper.

“Just because it’s fun and there are so many activities to do,” she said.

Her favorite activity? Painting.

“You can blend colors and make whatever, just use your imagination,” Garcia said as she painted the small wooden people for her house.

Coons said it’s fun to see the kids come back year after year and develop their skills.

“I love doing all that stuff myself, so it makes me so happy when kids want to be creative and use their brains in a different way,” she said. “The schools are really trying, but it’s hard because they’ve got all that other stuff they’ve got to do. I wish we could get to the point where we were always having something going, even during the school year (at the arts center for kids) … where they got a little bit more, but I love it. I love it that they love it.”

Coons said Executive Director Speck Mellencamp teaches a lot of lessons to kids, so that’s one option for them outside of art camp.

“We try to tell them about other stuff that they can do during the summer artwise, and a lot of these kids do that stuff anyway, so it’s pretty great,” she said.

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