Hello! I’m Margaret Dexter and have been the Fine Arts department head at Camp Champions for the past two summers. At the beginning of last summer, the Fine Arts department got together to come up with an updated approach to helping kids grow important skills at summer camp. Every counselor had personal stories to tell about how the arts have positively influenced their lives. After hearing each other’s stories, we collectively made a list of five useful life skills campers can learn in our activities (Drama, Music, Cooking, Dance, Arts and Crafts, Drawing, and Ceramics).
So here they are! The Top Five Skills Learned in the Fine Arts Activities:
Creativity- This one, although obvious, is my personal favorite. The Fine Arts counselors are focused on asking questions that challenge campers to think outside the box. When given the right tools and encouragement children have a natural talent to let their creativity shine. The arts encourage innovation, nonlinear thinking, and problem solving, all which exercise creativity. The process of creating is a valuable experience that requires free thinking, discovery, experimentation, and analysis.
Communication. The arts allow kids to use the right side of their brains. This creative thinking helps children communicate in verbal and nonverbal ways. Fine Arts activities are unique because it is a time to share stories and ideas with each other. Camp life is busy and full of energy but the fine art activities provide time when everyone can be heard. Group conversation is important for the success of a fine arts activity. Counselors are fantastic at keeping the conversation flowing and allowing an opportunity for each camper to be heard. Whether they are sharing their favorite childhood memory or their answer to a would you rather question, even the shyest of campers are encouraged to speak their opinion.
3. Confidence. The Fine arts challenges campers to step out of their comfort zone and
try to achieve things they’re not used to doing, such as performing a dance in front of camp at torchlight or participating in an improv drama game. The personal victories reached during fine art activities help build confidence within campers. As a department, we aim for every camper to feel comfortable and capable during our activities. It is important for campers to constantly be pushing themselves to do their personal best.
Independance. With confidence comes independence. The older campers come to their Fine Arts activities and get to choose the activity they want to participate in for that day. Some campers pick the same activity over and over, honing in on a particular skill while others like to experience a variety of what each activity has to offer. When it comes down to it, the campers get to choose where they want to go and how involved they become. For example, learning and practicing the dance for Jam Session takes discipline and trying out takes courage. Campers learn what they are capable of at camp and within the fine arts.
Creative play. In the fine arts we want the process of creating to be just as fun as enjoying the finished product. Children learn through play and in the Fine Arts they can learn all the skills listed (and many more) while simply having fun and enjoying themselves. Once I led a drawing class for the youngest boys and based on the boys' ideas we created a game where each boy had to design a creature. As the game progressed, the boys came up with new rules such as each creature had to have a name, favorite food, and magical power. By the end of class the boys had created puppies with laser vision, 10 armed aliens who only ate doughnuts, and 20 eyed blob monsters. Naturally, children are masters of creative play. Our counselors are here to help encourage and guide our camper’s imaginations while allowing them to express their emotions in a positive and healthy way.
The Fine Arts allow campers to grow in these five areas as well as many more! Whoo hoo fine art activities!!
Want More Like This? See Also: Benefits of Free Play at Summer Camp