Creativity at Camp

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Here at camp there are plenty of high energy, exciting activities – but what about the times when campers just want to relax and be creative? Camp has plenty of artistic activities available too, such as pottery, woodworking, arts & crafts, theater, and blacksmithing. Today we’ll get a small glimpse into the creative side of camp, where boys can feel welcome to give art a try, and shape whatever they imagine. Whether campers are experienced artists or just trying something new, our counselors are ready to teach to all levels.

Yesterday was “glaze day” at pottery, where boys can take the ceramics they created and paint them with a multitude of colored glazes. “I made a candleholder, a cup, and a palm tree,” said Marshall T. He was using the fuschia and robins egg colored glazes on his candle holder, and had plans for many other colors as he worked. Alex, one of the art and pottery counselors, showed me an example of a bright blue glaze, beautifully coloring a duck that a camper had sculpted and glazed for him as a gift - He knew how much Alex likes ducks!

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Some of the boys were glazing the bobble heads they made, while others were finishing nametags or coil pots. Glaze that hasn’t been fired yet often looks very different inside the container, and Alex was giving an introductory lesson on how to use it. Luckily there was a glaze sample board that showed boys what the colors they chose would look like after being fired. “You have to trust in the magic of pottery and wait to see the different glaze colors when they come out of the kiln,” Alex told everyone.

Sunny is head of the pottery program, and not only brings her vast knowledge to the activity, but also a passion for sharing art with kids. I asked her why she thought it was important to have art options at camp, in addition to the traditional camp activities and sports. “It’s important to cater to all types of children with all different interests,” she said. “Even though sports are awesome, some kids don’t really gravitate towards them. Instead of physically working out that way, they can exercise their creativity.”

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Boys also got to throw on the wheel yesterday!

Sometimes boys come to art to calm down and take a break from more active things. Sunny said her favorite part is “when I get to open the kiln and see all the new projects waiting there.” This morning, she’ll be getting to experience her favorite part! Later today the boys will be just as excited as she is when they arrive at the art room to see their colorful finished works.

Pottery shares a roof with woodworking, which takes place on the back side of the Lodge in the woodshop. Harry, one of the woodworking counselors, enjoyed taking the activity as a camper and now gets to share his knowledge with the next generation. “The reason I love woodworking is because you’re able to create things with your two hands and it’s very fulfilling,” he said. “Other activities you can’t witness your progress as well as you can in woodworking. Every day you come in, your project will be a little more finished.”

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Harry thinks that woodworking is a good introduction to the arts, exposing boys to a new way that they can be creative, even if they might not identify themselves as artists yet. “People come to woodworking with all kinds of different intentions, enticed by the idea that they can hit something with a hammer or saw it in half, but they all come out with something they’ve created, and that sticks with them for sure,” Harry said. Boys begin by making name tags, and then move on to birdhouses. After that, Harry and the other counselors will help them create almost anything they want - boys will make things like toy cars, ping pong paddles, small oars, or wooden boxes.

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One of the creative collages in progress, made with recycled paper scraps yesterday

Yesterday in arts & crafts, Eli was leading a collage making session. He’s the head of arts & crafts, and is great at giving patient instructions, constructive feedback when boys ask for it, and most of all the space and encouragement to be creative. “I like seeing young imaginations at work, because you don’t get to see them in action very often,” said Eli. There’s always twenty different things happening at once in the art room - a flurry of creative energy from the young boys excited about making things. Yesterday’s collages were done using recycled paper, and looking around the tables, no two pages were similar!

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This 2-Week Camp session can be a spark for new interests and hobbies, which boys will hopefully continue back home and return to next summer. The boys at camp are very much like the clay they work with in pottery - through love, skill, practice, and effort, they become molded into something uniquely beautiful. Here we feel fortunate to be part of the journey these boys are on, shaping, smoothing, and molding into the versions of themselves they were meant to be.