Last week I had the privilege of volunteering at an arts camp here in Annapolis. Arts Mentorship Academy, run by Creating Communities, is a weeklong camp for underprivileged youth in Anne Arundel County. Interest and participation this year was so great, 2 camps ran concurrently; the 120 students, ages 7 - 17, divided to small groups, enjoyed learning various art forms taught by master artists and teachers.
Each morning started with a short meditation, where the children quieted themselves, read affirmations and poetry, and prepared for the day ahead. One class taught the art of journaling and book-making; another featured origami. I assisted in the painting room, where we painted picture frames and created a 4 panel mural "Life Is Art Is Life," which was the theme of this year's camp.
The dance portion of the camp was especially noteworthy. The 10 or 12 students in each group collaborated on a dance, each group creating its own ballet, hip-hop, or blues expression. The children work together to develop a theme, offered suggestions, and chose dance steps and gestures to express their theme. The final product was a beautiful portrayal of cooperation.
As do many arts camps, Arts Mentorship Academy brought the week to a close with a performance. The campers invited family and friends to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, to see and enjoy all that they had learned over the week. I have already doted on the dancers. Some children displayed their journals, and shared some of their entries, specifically a day or experience in their life that is etched upon their heart. The stories all told of the love of family, and brought a tear to many an eye in the audience. Others read affirmations and poetry they had written. Two boys spoke on what this camp experience meant to them.
At the close of the program, all were invited to share a meal before heading home. These kids took home with them great experiences of leadership and cooperation; they learned to calm themselves when all around them is wild; they learned to express themselves through dance, words, music and art.
To learn more about the Arts Mentorship Academy, and to see how you can support this and other various on-going projects and programs, please go to
www.creatingcommunities.net. There you can also see pictures from camp. What a great week it was!