Camp meets creativity

Youth enjoying a spring break camp at Mesa Arts Center last year

In a perfect world, our schools would be overflowing with art classes and academic classes integrating the arts into everything from history to science. Families would spent weekends taking children and teens to local libraries and museums. Children would race home after school to create their own puppet shows or paintings with recyclable materials or inexpensive supplies.

Youth enjoying a summer camp at Phoenix Theatre last year

But worries about time, money and plenty of other factors too often get in the way — and today’s kids are getting a raw deal in the arts and culture department.

Summer camps are a way to fill that void. They help children and teens discover the joys of creative expression, connect with friends who have similar interests and learn new skills rarely taught at home or school.

I’d like to say that my kitchen table was always covered with canvas and paints, but it wasn’t. And the sheets my kids loved to throw over the dining room table for pretend play spent too much time in the linen closet.

My children are all in college now, but it was tough to find the best camp fit when they were younger. Today parents have resources that add a “one-stop shopping” element to the whole experience — like the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine summer camp directory, and their annual camp fair.

This year they’ve expanded the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair to two days, and I’m eager to attend both days so I can meet and chat with all the folks offering camps that feature visual and/or performing arts.

It’s a great way to see what’s out there for children and teens in areas like dance, music, theater, film and visual arts — though I have to confess that I’m easily distracted by all the other camps I find there, especially when animals are involved.

Youth enjoying Camp Broadway 2007 at ASU Gammage

I’m told there are still a few spaces in case any of you want to jump in at the last minute to let folks know about your own camps for children or teens. If you’re a parent seeking summer camp options, you’re wise to start the search now. I learned the hard way too many times just how quickly some of these camps fill up every year.

Youth enjoying a spring camp at Valley Youth Theatre

We sometimes get so busy with our daily lives that we forget to make time and space for our children and teens to explore new ideas and activities, to experiment with materials rarely enjoyed at home or in the classroom, to interact with other youth in positive settings that foster social and emotional skills.

Thankfully, there’s a camp for that.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about securing exhibit space for your organization at the 2012 Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair, call the magazine office at 480-991-KIDS (5437).

Coming up: History in your hometown

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