By Mark G. McLaughlin
Art camps open up new horizons for children of all ages. For some, a camp can allow them to grow and express themselves through dance, music, painting, drawing, acting or any of a wide and growing variety of arts. For others, it can open their eyes to opportunities they might never have had or even thought of at school or at home. Art camps can be an enriching, rewarding experience, whether the child is exploring new horizons – or getting a chance to improve on skills they are already starting to develop. Here are just five of the country’s best art camps for kids.
Summer Art Academy
12326 Riverside Drive
Valley Village, CA 91607
The Summer Art Academy has two principal locations in the Los Angeles area. One is in Valley Village and the other in Agoura Hills. There are programs for children in three age groups: 5-6, 7-11 and 11-14. Children are exposed to a wide variety of artistic pursuits, and do everything from cooking to yoga. They are shown how to work with clay, draw cartoons, sew, and even participate in musical theater productions, and more (such as learning how to fence and to perform magic tricks). There are day and sleepover options, and many unique programs that are designed so that children may, as their motto goes, discover, explore and create with art.
14382 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Art Rebel is quite well known throughout Southern California and especially the Valley for its unique and creative approach to children’s art. Its summer camps include some outstanding programs in cartooning and the fashion arts, as well as some truly wild programs – such as a week of working with slime, or a week where kids “draw, paint and splash…all under our neon lights.” There are also camps where children build robots or STEM models, as well as one using only “found and recycled” materials.
Museum of Fine Arts Studio Art Classes
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Not all of the nation’s best arts camps for kids are located in California; there are many on the East Coast. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, for example, offers some amazing week-long and weekend arts camps for kids. Most are aimed at children from 5 to 11 years of age, but there are also pre-school arts camps and classes. There also both studio art camps and more general camps intended to expose children to the grand panoply of art. Campers tour the museum’s galleries, draw, paint, sculpt and print, and work with “wearable” art – and much, much more. The instructors are educators who are also professional artists, and as there are classes all year round, campers who have found their inspiration can sign up for more camps or classes after school, during school breaks, and weekends.
Summer Art Colony on Governors Island
Children’s Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton St.
New York City, NY 10014
New York is one of, if not the arts capital of the United States – and maybe the world. It is only fitting that some of the best, most inventive and most comprehensive children’s art camps should be situated in or around the Big Apple. One of the best is that sponsored by the Children’s Museum of the Arts, which offers week-long camps all summer long on scenic Governors Island. Children are guided through many artistic disciplines, from animation and film-making to photography, screen-making, comic book design, and working with textiles. Each camp experience is different and focuses on one of these and other arts, including theater arts and story-telling. Children are taken out to the island by ferry, thus giving them the added experience of seeing Manhattan from offshore.
3907 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, Il 60618
Chicago has its share of great kids art camps, and among the best-reviewed are those run by the Wishcraft Workshop. They offer indoor and outdoor camp options, both for teens and tweens as well as children in the kindergarten through third-grade range. They also provide opportunities for classes, workshops and camps all year long. Their twin mottos “STEMs need flowers” and “We grow artists” pretty much says it all about their philosophy and approach. They invite kids of all ages to “make art, sew, design, build, learn and play with us.” They also boast that “we do camp awesome.”