Art camps gearing up for summer

Whether it's learning how to be a clown, play the guitar or paint with watercolors, summer art camp opportunities for children in Rockdale and Newton counties abound.

The Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts (CRCA) is once again offering its ArtSmart Camp and the Arts Association in Newton County is currently enrolling for its Creative Kids Camp. ArtSmart will run June 16 to 19 and June 23 to 26 at Rockdale County High School, and Creative Kids Camp takes place June 2 to 6 at Oxford College. CRCA is also offering the Missoula Children's Theater Summer Drama Day Camp from July 21 to 26.

Due to the popularity of the camps, organizers recommend that parents register their children as soon as possible. The first grade level at Creative Kids Camp is already full.

"We have a waiting list every day up until the first day of camp," said Abigail Coggin, Arts Association program director and organizer for Creative Kids.

Rockdale's ArtSmart Camp serves ages 6 to 14 and children get to choose five classes to take each day of the camp. The teachers and classes for 2008 include: Orrin Morris - drawing; Sheila Myers - watercolor; Tess Conway - improvisational comedy and acting techniques; Gincy Moon - drumming; Jenna Chavalia - pottery; Joey Fargar - advanced acting; Jeannette Anthos - adventures in art; Allison Hall - art exploration; Kay Porter - voice exploration; Rebekah Roberts - music and percussion (xylophone); and Arline Chapman - acrylic painting.

Also, new in ArtSmart curriculum is a clown class taught by Larry Perry, a master clown. The class will teach students about costuming, makeup and movement.

"We encourage students to expand their horizons by taking classes that will give them a chance to learn something new," said CRCA Executive Director Sue Chappell. "The point of camp is to have fun while you learn and experiment with something new."

The tuition for the four-day ArtSmart Camp is $125 for CRCA donors and $150 for non-donors and includes all supplies, a daily snack and a pizza party. Classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

"We try to keep the class size small, no more than 10 to 13 students per class except for the acting classes. The students get a lot of individual attention from their teachers and get a good amount of exposure in a variety of fine arts," said Chappell.

CRCA will also present the Missoula Children's Theater Summer Drama Camp, a week-long session in which children participate in the preparation of a play and then perform the production at the end of the week. This year, the Missoula Children's Theater will be casting 60 cast members and four assistant directors to produce "The Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe." The program is open to children from kindergarten through 12th grade and the participation fee is $50. Auditions are July 21 at 9 a.m.; rehearsals are from July 21 to 25, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and performances are July 26 at 3 and 5:30 p.m.

In Newton County, Creative Kids Camp serves rising first- through sixth-graders who get a variety of art classes in the morning, participate in recreation activities in the afternoons and watch live daily performances by artistic professionals.

Children in first, second and third grades take instrumental music, vocal music and visual arts while those rising fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders participate in vocal music, visual arts and have a choice between drama or guitar instruction.

Each class, which is comprised of 25 children, is taught by a certified educator. For 2008, the instructors include former Rockdale County teachers Alan and Laurie Bunn teaching vocal classes; Karen Greene of Newton County schools and Katy King of Rockdale County schools instructing the visual arts classes; Newton County teachers Gail Stephens and Matt Garwood leading the instrumental classes; and Megan Uryga of Newton County schools teaching drama. Each class is also aided by four camp counselors who are former campers themselves and are in middle or high school or college.

Live performances for 2008 include Jeff Johnson with BB Fuzz, a guitarist and singer (and Newton County music teacher) who plays humorous folk music geared toward elementary school age kids. Capital City Opera will also present "A Seuss-some Twosome," featuring two Dr. Seuss stories brought to life through singing and theatrics.

The fee for Creative Kids Camp, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., is $200 and includes the classes, lunch and the cost of the live performances.

"Basically, it's an intense week of the arts," said Coggin.

To register for ArtSmart Camp, download the form from www.conyersarts.org or call 770-922-3143. To register for Creative Kids Camp, download the form from www.newtoncountyarts.org or call 770-786-8188.