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Youngsters get creative at summer art camp

Posted: August 10, 2009 4:45 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Music and Arts Summer Camp students Bryce Gilbert, 11, background, and Kristen Hill, 10, are given an opportunity to try the bassoon at the Los Angeles Education Through The Arts program at Christ Lutheran Church on Wednesday. The camp exposed children to visual art, drama, dance and chorus instruction as well as music sessions.

 
Summer fun was found in the form of artistic expression during the seventh annual Los Angeles Education Through the Arts Camp held at Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia.

The full two-week session, held at the end of July, taught Santa Clarita Valley youngsters about the arts.

"I just learned so much more than I knew before," said Newhall resident Julia Chittum, 11. "I really liked being here and had a lot of fun."

Motivating students to appreciate all forms of art, the camp exposed children to visual art, drama, dance and chorus instruction as well as music sessions for those students who play a musical instrument.

Campers were asked to choose two out of four art disciplines to focus on and practice during the summer term.

Students chose between drama or dance and chorus or orchestra, but some art lovers wanted it all.

"I wanted to try something new, and I think everything here would be really fun to do," said Oak Hills Elementary School student Nicklaus Kim, 11.

Kim plays the clarinet and joined the orchestra portion of the program, as well as choosing drama as his other activity.

"I like learning things I've never done before," Kim said. "Next year, maybe I'll come back and even try dance!"

Campers were given one to two hours a day of in-depth instruction and interactive training on the art form they chose, the training provided by professionals in each field.

"We got to write our own play and I loved it!" said Stevenson Ranch Elementary School student Adi Oz, 11.

Oz spent the session working with the drama group, where campers got the chance to create their own scenes.

In addition to the individual activity groups, the campers came together twice a week for drama workshop exercises in order to bond with one another.

Three days a week, campers gathered for art and general music instruction.

"We want to expose the children to different kinds of art and teach them how to make connections to other educational subjects," said camp director, Ilizabeth Gilbert. "Learning about history or geography might become more interesting if students are taught about the art that came from the region."

Art students got the flavor of Russian art and history by viewing models of Russian nesting dolls, or "Matryoshka" dolls, and learning about the origin of the country's most popular souvenir.

Students then had the opportunity to make their own dolls and paint them in a fashion inspired by what they just learned on the subject.

"We believe that from science to philosophy, any academic discipline can be taught using art as a vehicle," Gilbert said.

Gilbert is a professional flutist and teaches orchestra for the Newhall School District year-round, as does the camp's co-director, Peggi Stoffel.

"We have been so fortunate to have a highly qualified teaching staff made up of experts in the fields," Gilbert said, noting that instructors included Newhall School District's music teachers Jana Gruss and Jami DeSiena.

One camper had a good reason for enjoying his experience with summer art fun.

"My sister and I don't get along anywhere else but in drama," said Wiley Canyon student Chase Sandel, 11. "We got to make something together and I think it helps people work better. It also helped me work with other people and hear about their ideas."

Chase added, "Everyone throws their ideas out there and then all of a sudden, I get more of them in my own head. That was my favorite part about all of the art classes we took."

After notes were rehearsed, songs were sung and scenes were ready for their stage debuts, the curtain was ready to rise.

The camp's season culminated in a grand finale performance on July 31 at the church.

"It's always so great for everyone to see what they've created together in the end," said Gilbert.

"The kids get a chance to feel inspired in a free, open environment that encourages them to create," said Peggi Stoffel, who has been with the camp for the past three years. "They are having fun and learning at the same time. It's a wonderful process to watch."

The finale was 1 1/2 hours in length and included all of the artistic disciplines studied, as well as a student art display during a reception following the performances.

"The music taught to us was harder, but that's all right - it just makes us better," said Chittum, who has played the saxophone for a year. "It was worth it because of what I learned, and I'm glad I came."

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