Every summer for 15 years, youngsters from across Northwest Ohio have had the opportunity to experience the arts during the Black Swamp Arts Council Creative Arts Camp.
This year’s program wrapped up last week.
Diane Tinsman, BSAC president and camp coordinator, said the goal of the weeklong program is to expose children to a variety of art forms.
“When kids think of art, they think of drawing or painting,” she said. “We want to expose them to other forms– music, drama, sculpture.”
The camp for children ages six to 12 is designed to “foster their creative energy.
“Not focus on the end product, but enjoy the creative process,” she said.
Over the summer months, Tinsman said there isn’t a lot of opportunity for youngsters to participate in art programs.
“There’s lots of Parks & Rec stuff, like swimming and baseball. We wanted to make sure there was an opportunity to foster creativity,” she said.
Outside Art World
One byproduct of Creative Arts Camp isn’t necessarily art-related.
“We’ve heard from parents who say they’ve seen their child’s confidence grow” after participating in the arts camp, Tinsman said.
By participating in drama and music at the camp, youngsters are able to act out and perform without fear of standing out from the crowd.
“They are given permission to act silly,” she said.
“A lot of parents say they really saw their child come out of their shell.”
Youths ages 13-16 who come back as junior counselors are given an opportunity to develop leadership skills.
The junior counselors are assigned to one group of children, and stay with them throughout the day.
They work with the younger children, assist camp counselors and instructors, and perform other duties.
In the 15 years Creative Arts Camp, originally known as Creativity Camp, has been held, several campers have gone on to pursue art in high school, and to careers in the art world.
Senior counselors work with individual instructors, learning what it takes to teach classes or work with children on a drama project.
Tinsman said Jarrett Yoder, AHS ‘11, was a camper, then a junior camp counselor, and later a camp counselor.
A standout on the AHS stage, he went on to study acting in New York, and today is a professional actor.
And Garrett Leininger, who recently starred on the Archbold Community Theatre stage, is director of vocal music in the Montpelier school district.
“A number of people who have graduated have said Creative Arts Camp was the favorite part of their summer,” Tinsman said.
The cost of a week at the arts camp is $65. Tinsman said a number of students utilize scholarships through BSAC to attend the summer program.
She said the program is self-sustaining based on fees.
The number of children that can be accepted in the program is limited.
“We tried to cap it at 80, but we ended up with 90 at Archbold and we still had a waiting list,” she said.
The program has also expanded, with camps at Defi- ance and Montpelier as well.
BSAC offers a variety of other programs.
Each year, the group gives away about $4,000 in scholarships for students who want to attend other art-related camps across the country, such as Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, or summer camps at Bowling Green State University.
BSAC also conducts an invitational arts show for high school students from the area at Northwest State Community College, and works to bring the Toledo Symphony to Founder’s Hall at Sauder Village.
At Creative Arts Camp, Tinsman said, “It’s fun to see the kids grow, and the love and enthusiasm they bring to camp.”