“I had so much fun”

These Adams County youth participated last week in the Summer Arts Camp, sponsored annually by the Adams County Arts Council.
These Adams County youth participated last week in the Summer Arts Camp, sponsored annually by the Adams County Arts Council.

Summer Arts Camp lets kids shine –

Story and photos by Patricia Beech –

“I had so much fun.”
Emma Napier’s eyes light up when she talks about her week-long  experience at Summer Arts Camp.  “I’ve been coming here since it  started,” she says. “And I like acting best, because I’m not very good  at drawing.”

Her younger sister, Jayce shares Emma’s enthusiasm, “I just love it,”  she says. Both girls say they plan to return next year.

That’s exactly the reaction members of the Adams County Arts Council  hope to hear.
“It’s wonderful to see the kids get excited about creativity,” says  Elaine Lafferty, the camp’s director. “We’re in our fourth year, and  we have many students who return year after year.”

Launched in 2012 by local artist J.R. Bradley, the Summer Arts Camp  provides arts education at no cost to young people, ages 9 – 14,  across Adams County.
This year 28 campers spent a week exploring and developing their  creativity through the arts. Each day, they participated in activities  designed to nurture their talents, and as they learned arts skills,  they also developed life skills: confidence, self-expression, and  creativity.

Some programs focused on visual arts, some on performing arts,but all  shared the common goal of helping kids grow.

Each camper chose one of five creative venues to participate in for  the entire week: Drawing, taught by author and illustrator, Adam  Watkins; Water Color Painting taught by award-winning artist JoAnn  White; Sculpture taught by Mike Roberts; Music and Theater taught by  West Union High School chorus teacher, Neil DeAtley.

“We have so many talented people in this county, and it’s wonderful  they’re willing to give their time to these children,” said Lafferty,  who taught Art Appreciation at the end of each day’s session. Focusing  on artists who worked in fields corresponding to those being studied  by the campers, Lafferty gave presentations on watercolor artist, P.  Buckley Moss, composer John Williams, illustrator C.F. Payne, and  sculptor and architect Maya Lin (designer of the Vietnam Wall Memorial).

Family and friends attended the camp’s “Show and Tell” exhibition on Friday, July 22, showcasing the campers’ artwork as well as a play and  musical performances by the music and theater participants.

Kathleen Young, whose daughter Aylee attended the camp, thought the  week was a very positive experience. “I think this camp is very important,” she said. “We need art and  music camp for kids who are gifted in those areas.”

These youngsters work on their drama skit, preparing for their performance for the public on Friday of Summer Arts Camp.
These youngsters work on their drama skit, preparing for their performance for the public on Friday of Summer Arts Camp.

Local attorney Roy Gabbert agreed. “My daughter is 12 years old, and I  want her to have something interesting and productive to do during the  summer, and the art camp provides that for her,” said Gebbert. “It’s a wonderful thing  the Arts Council provides, it makes me feel very good about our  community and very pleased the opportunity is available. It’s quite an endeavor and they’ve pulled it off successfully.”

Art Council members, Betsy Miskell, Sally White, and Paulette  Roberts provided food and refreshments for the campers throughout the  week. Miskall, who retired from the Cincinnati Public Library before  moving to Adams County, believes art is an essential element in  childhood education. “This summer camp is so important because from an  early age children need to be exposed to art and participate in it,”  she said. “It helps round out their education – sports, knowledge and  the arts all intertwine.”

Many studies have shown that arts education creates a bridge between  learning in school and putting what is learned to use in the real world. According to James Catterall, a retired UCLA education professor, “Art  is a way of thinking, it encourages asking questions, it encourages  taking some risks, and it encourages collaborative work.”

Students at schools with dynamic art programs consistently perform  better in nearly every area. According to a report from the  President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, schools with  strong art programs have higher attendance rates, higher morale, and  higher test scores than schools with weaker art programs.

Additionally, statistics show that low-income students attending  arts-rich schools are twice as likely to attend four-year colleges or  universities, compared with low-income students at schools without  much art. They were three times more likely to earn a bachelor’s  degree, and were less likely to drop out. They were also more involved  in sports, clubs, and volunteer work.

“Almost all kids start out liking art, they like coloring and  scribbling,” said the camp’s drawing instructor, Adam Watkins.  “But at  some point, when they start to feel they’re not good, they’ll quit,  but I think it’s important to know that it’s not about being good,  it’s about self expression. It’s about having an outlet where you can  be creative, and no one needs to see it. It’s healthy.”