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Summer Camps Offer Arts and Smarts

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If the walls could talk … Well, don’t they? Art that lines the walls of Delaware’s museums tells stories about people, places and times. Sculpture sings its own song of form and perspective. Absorbing those creative conversations are kids who attend summer art camps at Delaware Art Museum and Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, both in Wilmington, and Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover. “Because the camp is part of a museum, the kids develop respect for artwork,” says Rebecca Howell, DAM’s studio programs manager. “The kids see that we put art in beautiful frames and display it on walls, then talk about it and study it, and people come from far away to look at art and spend time with it. That teaches kids that art is something to value, and to be an artist is to be someone whom the world respects.” Howell says that every section of the museum offers an opportunity for self-exploration. “Our galleries are divided into different periods or styles, and sometimes adults only go into the galleries holding the work for which they have developed an affinity,” she says. “But kids haven’t yet developed those preferences, so we expose them to a huge variety of artwork. Contemporary, Early American, Howard Pyle’s work; it’s all different. We tell the kids that each artist has his own voice, then we take them into the studio so they can find theirs.” Finding those voices requires learning the basics of artwork, but none of the museums focuses too heavily on technique—or on critique.

The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington teaches children a visual lesson of how everyone is unique through projects like painting a butterfly.

Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington. 

“Our camp is not the traditional ‘how-to-draw, how-to-paint,’” says Sarah Ware, curator of education at DCCA. “Because we are a contemporary museum, we encourage kids to be more experimental and think— and create—outside the box. We don’t tell kids what they must do or that they have to adhere to traditional techniques. In fact, we expose them to people who are considered great artists exactly because they went in unique and different directions.” Older children draw with charcoal and pencil, paint with watercolors and oils, work indoors and outdoors, and create mixed-media projects. For younger kids, it’s more about expressing their creativity, camp directors say. Consider “Swashbuckling Pirates,” one of the programs offered at Biggs Museum of American Art for ages 6-9. “On our third floor, we have space dedicated to American illustration, among which are many works depicting pirates,” says Beccy Schwartz, education and programs manager at the Biggs. “The kids go to that gallery with clipboards and pencils and sketch the pirates. Then they learn how to make eye patches and swords out of different materials, each customized to their liking. Next comes the big project: We make our own pirate ship. It’s about 6 feet long and constructed from recycled cardboard. On the last day of that session, we have the kids wear pirate-themed clothing, like dark pants and vests with striped shirts. Then we put on our eye patches, grab our swords and take the pirate ship outside to play with it.” Other museums have age-appropriate programs that fuse fun with art, like DCCA’s “Animal Instincts: Explore Your Wild Side” for 4-year-olds. As the kids get older, they are encouraged to work with a variety of media. One of them is clay, which plays a big role in all children’s art programs. Why? “It’s a fun, tactile medium,” Howell says. “Not every school has a ceramics program, let alone kilns like we have at DAM. It’s also a 3-D project, and that opens the kids’ minds in different ways than anything on paper.”

Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover.

No matter the medium, campers are learning things that go well beyond the art world. Those would be the life lessons that parents hope their kids will absorb. Among them: how to work in groups with people who have different points of view. “What’s neat is that the kids get this very visual lesson of how everyone is unique,” Ware says. “If you say something as simple as, ‘Paint a butterfly,’ everyone’s butterfly will look different and all of them are interesting in different ways. We talk about how to express what you like and don’t like about someone’s work in nice ways, and how to hear and absorb what people say about your work in ways that help you be better at something, instead of discouraging you from trying again.” DCCA and DAM conclude their programs with art exhibits that display the children’s projects. Family and friends are invited to the exhibits, where the young artists get positive feedback, even if it is just for undertaking a project and completing it. “The kids have a lot of very obvious ownership about their work,” Ware says. “There is something to be learned by putting your work out into the world with your name on it and letting everyone see it.” Through these programs, campers create something else—friendships. Having a social circle of other kids who are interested in art is incredibly valuable, camp directors say. Adult artists need support and feedback from their peers, and that’s also true for kids. “Being part of a creative clique is essential,” Howell says. “Listen, I was a weird little kid, and I relate to the creative kids who spend the summer with us. It can be hard or even embarrassing to reveal your creative self and let people know you are interested in ceramics, painting or drawing. It’s not always the cool or popular thing to pursue. So we make sure the kids understand that this is a safe place, where their creativity is encouraged and appreciated.”

Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover.


ALAPOCAS RUN STATE PARK
WILMINGTON
Activities: rock climbing, hiking, canoeing Ages 8-17 | Weekly, June-July | $275-$325 www.destateparks.com, 577-7020

ALLEY-OOP SKIM
DELAWARE SEASHORE STATE PARK, DEWEY BEACH
Activities: skim boarding Ages 5-16 | Weekly, June-August $200-$400 | Overnight, $800 www.alleyoopskim.com, 227-7087

BELLEVUE STATE PARK
WILMINGTON
Activities: hiking, fishing, kayaking, paintball, rock climbing, zip lining, photography Ages 4-17 | Weekly, June-August | $100-$330 www.destateparks.com, 761-6963

BIGGS MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
DOVER
Activities: painting, sculpture and drawing |Ages 6-9 | Weekly, July | $125-$150 www.biggsmuseum.org, 674-2111, ext. 101

BLUE ROCKS BASEBALL CAMPS
WILMINGTON
Activities: baseball Ages 5-13 | 2 days, June-August | $99 | www.bluerocks.com, 888-2015

BRANDYWINE CREEK STATE PARK
WILMINGTON
Activities: nature, outdoors, water sports | Ages 4-14 | Weekly, June-August | $100-$240 | www.destateparks.com, 655-5740

BRANDYWINE ZOO
WILMINGTON
Activities: animals, nature, art Ages 4-13 | Weekly, June-August $175-$200 www.brandywinezoo.org/camp, 571-7788

CAB CALLOWAY SUMMER SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
WILMINGTON
Activities: academics, communication arts, fashion, music, dance, writing Ages K-12 | Weekly, June-July | Price N/A www.cabsummer.org, 766-3411

CAMP ARROWHEAD
LEWES
Activities: arts, sailing, nature, Christian emphasis Ages: Grades 2-11 | Weekly and biweekly, June 21-Aug. 8 | Costs vary | www.camparrowhead.net, 945-0610

CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK
LEWES
Activities: animal and nature-themed camps Ages 5-12 | Weekly, June-August $100-$200 www.destateparks.com, 645-8983

CAMP JCC
WILMINGTON
Activities: arts and crafts, nature, sports, drama, Israeli culture, music, dance Ages: Pre-K-grade 9 | Weekly, June-August Price N/A www.siegeljcc.org, 478-5660

CAMP MANITO (WILMINGTON)
CAMP LENAPE (FELTON)
Activities: United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware offers swimming, arts and crafts, sports, technology and music for people with disabilities Ages: 3-21 | Weekly, June-August $160-$175 www.ucpde.org, 764-2400, 335-5626

CAMP NEW HOPE
NEWARK, GEORGETOWN
Activities: Delaware Hospice’s camp for children who have lost a close loved one | Dates N/A | Free www.delawarehospice.org, (800) 838-9800

CAMP TOCKWOGH (YMCA)
CHESTERTOWN, MD.
Activities: sail, water ski, windsurf, canoe or kayak Ages: Grades K-9 | Weekly, overnight, June-August | Prices N/A www.ymcacamptockwogh.org, (410) 348-6000

CLEAR SPACE THEATRE COMPANY CAMP
REHOBOTH
Activities: theater Ages: Grades 1-12 | Weekly, July-August Price N/A www.clearspacetheatre.org, 227-2270

DELAWARE AEROSPACE ACADEMY
SMYRNA, NEWARK
Activities: oceans, dinosaurs, space Ages: Grades 1-10 | Weekly, overnight option, June-July | Price N/A www.dasef.org, 834-1978

DELAWARE ART MUSEUM
WILMINGTON
Activities: ceramics, painting, drawing Ages 6-12 | Dates N/A | Price N/A www.delart.org, 351-8551

DELAWARE CENTER FOR THE CONTEMPORARY ARTS
WILMINGTON
Activities: painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, mixed media Ages 4-15 | Weekly, June-August Price N/A www.thedcca.org/summercamp, 656-6466, ext. 7101

THE DELAWARE CENTER FOR HORTICULTURE HELP (HORTICULTURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP PROGRAM)
WILMINGTON, MONTCHANIN
Activities: gardening, environment, hands-on projects Ages: Grade 8 | 2-3 weeks, June-July Free www.thedch.org, 658-6262, ext. 107

DELAWARE DANCE COMPANY
NEWARK
Activities: dance, musical theater, crafts, games Ages 3-18 | Weekly, biweekly, June-August Cost varies | www.delawaredancecompany.org, 738-2023

DELAWARE NATURE SOCIETY
HOCKESSIN, GREENVILLE, MILFORD, WILMINGTON, NEWARK, KENNETT SQUARE
Activities: nature, water sports, horseback riding, cooking, photography Ages 3-15 | Weekly, overnight option, June-August | $65-$555 www.delnature.org/programs, 239-2334

DELAWARE STATE UNIVERSITY
DOVER
Activities: culinary arts, robotics, chemistry, arts Grades 2-12 | Weekly, June-August | Price $100-$150 | www.desu.edu, 857-6824

DELAWARE TECHNICAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE
WILMINGTON, STANTON, DOVER, GEORGETOWN
Activities: STEM subjects, engineering, photography, Spanish, illustration, sports Ages 3-16 | Weekly, June-August Price N/A www.dtcc.edu/continuingeducation/youth-programs, 857-1000

DELAWARE THEATRE COMPANY
WILMINGTON
Activities: acting, improvisation, voice, stagecraft Ages 8-18 | Two weeks, June-August Price N/A www.delawaretheatre.org/summer-stage, 594-1100

EASTER SEALS CAMP FAIRLEE
CHESTERTOWN, MD.
Activities: wall-climbing, ropes, water sports, horseback riding for adults with disabilities Ages 6-adults | 5-, 6- or 12-day sessions, overnight, June-August | Price $575-$1,825 | www.de.easterseals.com/fairlee, (410) 778-0566

FIRST STATE BALLET THEATRE
WILMINGTON
Activities: ballet, crafts Ages 4-22 | 1-4 week sessions, June-July Price N/A www.firststateballet.com/summer-program, 658-7897, ext. 3851

HOCKESSIN ATHLETIC CLUB SUMMER CAMPS
HOCKESSIN
Activities: exploration, sports, martial arts, tumbling, yoga, dance Ages 3-13 | Weekly, June-August | $68-$363 www.hachealthclub.com, 239-6688

ID TECH CAMPS: CODE, GAME, CREATE!
NEWARK (UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE)
Activities: code, game design, app development, robotics, web design, film, photography | Ages: 7-17 | Weekly (day and night) Cost $899+ | info@iDTech.com, (888) 709-8324

KAY’S KAMP
MIDDLETOWN
Activities: arts and crafts, sports, games and fishing for children with cancer Ages 5-17 | July 11-18 | Free www.kayskamp.org, (888) 539-3413

KILLENS POND STATE PARK
FELTON
Activities: water sports, rock climbing, hiking Ages 6-13 | Weekly, June-August |$35-$200 | www.destateparks.com, 284-4299

LUMS POND STATE PARK
BEAR
Activities: nature, orienteering, archery, rock climbing Ages 4-14 | Weekly, June-August | $100-$300 www.destateparks.com, 368-6989

THE MUSIC SCHOOL OF DELAWARE
WILMINGTON, MILFORD
Activities: music instruction Ages Pre-K-adult | Weekly, June-August | Price N/A www.musicschoolofdelaware.org, 762-1132

NEWARK PARKS & RECREATION
Activities: sports, arts, dance, theater, nature Ages: 5-14 | Weekly, June-August Cost: $90-$249 www.cityofnewarkde.us/parksrecreation, 366-7060

SANFORD SCHOOL
HOCKESSIN
Activities: sports, computers, dance, nature Ages 4-14 | Weekly, June-August Price N/A www.sanfordcamps.com, 475-8013

SHOESTRING PRODUCTIONS OF BRANDYWINE VALLEY SUMMER DRAMA AND MUSICAL THEATRE CAMPS
SAINT EDMOND’S ACADEMY (NORTH WILMINGTON)
Activities: Contact for specific programs and info | Ages 9-16 | June through July | One- and two-week programs available | $115-$375 www.brandywineshoestringproductions.com; 762-0505

TATNALL SCHOOL SUMMER CAMP
WILMINGTON
Activities: science, technology, sports, music, dance, arts Ages: Pre-K-grade 12 | Weekly, June 15-August 21 | Price N/A www.tatnall.org, 892-4347

TOWER HILL SCHOOL SUMMER PROGRAMS
WILMINGTON
Activities: sports, academics, technology, sewing, woodworking Ages Grades 3-6 | Weekly, June-August Price N/A www.towerhill.org/summer, 472-7370

TRAP POND STATE PARK
LAUREL
Activities: fishing, tracking animals, orienteering, bird watching Ages 6-12 | Weekly, July-August | $150-$175 www.destateparks.com, 875-5163

WHITE CLAY CREEK STATE PARK
NEWARK
Activities: nature, adventure Ages 4-14 | Weekly, June-August | $100-$225 www.destateparks.org, 368-6900

WILMINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
WILMINGTON
Activities: sports, nature, performing arts, fine arts, technology Ages: 2-14 | Dates N/A | Price N/A www.wilmingtonfriends.org/camp, 576-2998

WILMINGTON MONTESSORI SCHOOL
WILMINGTON
Activities: nature, sports, cooking, singing, field trips Ages 2-14 | 3 days-2 weeks, June-August $115-$240 www.wmsde.org/camp, 475-0555

YMCA OF DELAWARE
VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Activities: swimming, arts and crafts, songs, sports, field trips Ages 2-17 | Dates June-August | Prices vary | www.ymcade.org, 571-6908

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