What's Art Camp?Every year that I teach YMCA Art Camp at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park I start with the same intention. To fill the half-day camp with art projects, games and a daily hike along the art trails, followed by snack and more art! We walk into the woods, over to the ponds, to the Secret Garden and to the place where it all started, the home of Bob and Dorothy Reister.
Each year I tell the kids the story of Bob and Dorothy and I can't believe how enchanted they are by it. They start taking notice of which sculptures are Dorothy's and ask if Bob was an artist too. And I answer, no he was not an artist but I think he built the house, and the A-frame studio and the barn (which we call the Art Barn).
Then they start to notice the other names on the sculptures around the Art Park: Rodger Mack, David Harper. And the amazing thing is that they remember them! And tell their parents!
Many times at the Camp Art Show, parents comment on how they had been coming to the park for years with their kids, but didn't know much about the place. But now after attending art camp the kids seem to feel a sense of ownership. They are the ones giving the tours to their parents and telling them the story of the Art Park. And where to find "Stacks", how to get to the Secret Garden, and the Spaceship in the woods, and which pond has the biggest frogs.
Somehow without really planning it, a sense of stewardship comes into place. The Art Campers care about the art installed in the park and also about the park's natural resources. They become conservationists, explaining the composting toilets to their families and telling their siblings why they shouldn't pick the flowers, or leave the water running in the sink. One day several of the kids tried to work out a plan to send some of our excess rain to California. (By train, in milk tank cars.) I really hope someone can put that plan into action.
So every year, we start with art, but end with so much more. And every year the teacher learns just as much as the students.
Thanks Art Campers!