Arts and Crafts at summer camp is more than just stringing together a few beads to make a bracelet or gluing some spray painted macaroni to a cardboard picture frame. It’s a program that gives campers the opportunity to explore their creative interests in several different types of art by offering a diverse array of age appropriate projects. Of course there are the traditional projects that are just plain fun, like paper mache and tie-dying. However, many summer camps also offer campers the opportunity to try things that are not only artistic but could be useful skills or even careers, such as metal work, jewelry making, calligraphy, cartooning, or soap and candle making. Just like sports programs at camp, many campers have discovered a passion in their summer camp’s Arts and Crafts programs that they later pursued further.
Another way in which summer camp Arts & Crafts programs benefit campers is by providing a creative outlet for children who are being given fewer chances to explore the arts in their school programs. Ashfaq Ishaq, PhD, argues that without being given the appropriate opportunity to explore their creative sides, children will not learn how to combine creativity with acquired knowledge to reach their full potential. Art encourages spontaneity and exploration, two things that allow us, as people, to be innovative and prolific in our thinking. Creativity also refines problem solving skills by helping us understand how to think “outside the box” when traditional solutions aren’t practical. All three qualities are considered crucial to success in a child’s education as well as their adulthood careers. Summer camp Arts & Crafts programs also give campers the opportunity to try some projects that might not be available in traditional school art programs, such as throwing clay on a pottery wheel.
For many campers, summer camp has become a way of maintaining tradition in environments that are ever changing. Faced with a fast paced, changing world in the winter, children can still depend on summer as a way to fall back on activities and hobbies that may not be greatly valued in conventional schools anymore but are useful and bring satisfaction. Arts and Crafts may be a dying art within American school systems. But it’s thriving within American summer camps.