The act of making art is a powerful one. Whether you’re forming something out of clay on a pottery wheel or animating a new video game character, art is an essential vehicle for self-expression. Art-making also teaches kids problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, fine motor skills and much more. A great way to encourage your budding artists and foster out-of-the-box thinking is to enroll them in an art-themed summer camp or pre-college program.
Pursuing artistic endeavors can give kids a strong sense of autonomy and independence, notes Rayna DeReus, studio and youth program coordinator at the Delaware Art Museum (DelArt). “I think a lot of times, kids don’t have much say over what they do or what happens, but being able to be creative and have control over what they’re doing, what they’re making, is really beneficial,” DeReus says.
DelArt offers a variety of art-themed summer programs, including “Myths, Magic and Mermaids,” “Fantastic Foods” (a new camp suggested by campers) and “Raku: Fast and Furious Pottery.” The museum collection often comes in handy for teaching—children play in the sculpture gardens during breaks and make use of the campus studios, including one for metalsmithing.
If you’re looking for an art camp that blends a love of nature with an exploratory vibe, the Delaware Nature Society (DelNature) has several. One option is “Eco-Artists,” a camper-led experience where “we do a variety of environmental art—clay sculptures, canvas painting, tie-dye, drawing, bracelet-making and more,” says Erynn DeGennaro, associate director of summer and youth programs for DelNature.
The organization also hosts a nature photography camp at Ashland Nature Center and art camps at Coverdale Farm Preserve. “We take a variety of materials from nature and bring them inside,” adds Mindy Brown, program manager at Coverdale. For example, wool from the farm’s sheep is used for fiber art and dying, while flowers from the surrounding areas are used to create pigments.
If your aspiring artist wants an immersive experience, the Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) offers a summer camp in animation for middle-schoolers, as well as a variety of pre-college programs that allow teens to choose majors and experience a taste of art school. Campers choose between fine art, game art, illustration, animation, graphic design, photography, video and more.
“We know that there are a lot of students who are interested in careers in the creative field, but sometimes they don’t know how to get there,” says Lise Dubé-Scherr, dean of continuing and professional studies. “DCAD really opens that door and creates that pathway.”