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BIG ARTS Summer Art Camp to begin June 23

By Staff | May 8, 2009

For many art oriented summer camps tended to be synonymous with popsicle stick figures and fingerpaintings of Mom, Dad and Spot.

But at BIG ARTS summer camp which runs from June 23 through Aug. 14 takes on a whole different hue and level.

Here arts and crafts are not a side activity in camp – they are the main attraction.

There are programs for young and older children.

Children entering kindergarten through fifth-grade will be able to participate in activities on a rotating schedule that includes painting, pottery, music, drama, and movement. BIG ARTS staff say arts and music appreciation, weekly projects, and interactive stage productions will help encourage interest and enthusiasm in the arts. Tuition is $75 per week. If reserving three or more weeks, the cost is $65 per week.

The fine arts apprentice program for middle and high school students is $50 per week, and provides an opportunity to be an instructor or to take classes. Courses include fused glass, mosaic, acting and improvisation, pottery, ceramics, jewelry, and metalsmithing. There will also be a chance to create visual journals or memory books. Volunteer opportunities are also available.

Children get to create something of their own. This year’s course offerings for the younger campers include mural making, cartooning, ceramics and pottery, said Natalie Cunningham, BIG ARTS program director.

“They like coming away with an art project,” Cunningham said.

The BIG ARTS summer camp – in its 11th year – is growing each year, Cunningham said. Though the number of children participating in the summer program varies, BIG ARTS staff see about 40 to 60 campers each week.

Most come for the fun of hanging out with friends and the chance to learn something new. And the campers tend to have their favorite instructors – many of which come back year after year.

Staff are picked for their talents and dedication to the arts and music field. Some are current or recent college graduates bringing an air of freshness and enthusiasm to the campers, and others are seasoned and/or retired professionals.

Jill Janda is a retired public school music teacher who will be teaching the music portion of the younger children’s summer camp program.

Janda who has been teaching in the BIG ARTS summer camp program for the past four years said the program helps to enhance and build on what the participants learn in school. But unlike in most school programs, in the BIG ARTS summer camp, children get to move around more, rather than remain seated during lessons.

“It’s a nice change for them,” Janda said. “It’s very much a hands-on activity. They’re really engaged.”

So what will the pint-sized Mozart’s be doing?

Children will get the chance to play a variety of different rhythm instruments, including tambourines, cymbals and hand-drums. And of course there will be camp songs. Standards such as “Cabin in the Woods” and “The Bunny Hop” will be part of the campers repertoire.

And in a time of economic uncertainty in which school art and music programs are on the line for possibly being cut from next year’s curriculum, the BIG ARTS program can be a help.

“We’re just happy to offer arts opportunities to the youth,” said BIG ARTS executive director Ellen Harder.

Camp programs run Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., June 23 through August 14. Individual weeks can be purchased during the eight week period, all participants must bring a ‘brown bag’ lunch. All pre-registered campers will receive a souvenir t-shirt.

Tuition assistance is available. Call 395-0900 to learn more.

BIG ARTS is also offering Chess Camp Tuesday and Thursdays 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m., for those ages eight and up. Cost is $15 per week.

BIG ARTS Summer Art Camp is supported by Patron Sponsor The Good Neighbor Community Foundation of Sanibel-Captiva, and Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank.

For further information or to register for Summer Art Camp, to purchase tickets, to sign up for workshops, or to become a member, stop by BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road Sanibel, call 395-0900, e-mail info@BIGARTS.org, or log on to www.BIGARTS.org.

(Press reports contributed to this story).