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Camp ARTselle pays tribute to ‘Roaring Twenties’

Andrea Williamson

Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle’s premiere fine arts camp for children and students is back this year with a theme that will have everyone looking back to the past.

Camp ARTselle and Camp “After Hours,” a supplementary program for older students, will begin on Mon., June 22, and go through Thurs., June 25. The theme for this year’s camp is The Roaring Twenties.

For rising first through fifth graders, camp will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Campers will participate in art, music, dance and drama classes. The campers will also be able to choose an additional master class in one of the art areas, which will give them a more in-depth look at the endeavor. According to Camp ARTselle Director Michael  Ballew, who has served for the past five years, allowing the kids to be exposed to the different types of art is important.

“At the beginning of camp, I ask the children to raise their hands if they are artists,” Ballew said, “and usually only around five children raise their hands. We try to show them that art is not just visual art, dance, music or theater: it is all of those things. By the end of camp, every child will raise his or her hand.”

More than just teaching children to define art, though, Ballew said that the camp teaches the children to love art. He said that the exposure to different art forms often sparks an interest children, leading them to take dance classes, audition for plays, or pursue other fine arts during the school year. He also said that students often come back to camp year after year, even returning to work as counselors after they have graduated high school.

“This is a fun environment, and it shows them how fun the arts can be,” Ballew said. “Kids often come in saying that they don’t want to be onstage, but by the second day, they have let go and are totally engaged. By the end of the week, they are onstage.”

The camp is not just for young children, though. For the fourth year, Camp ARTselle” will also offer Camp “After Hours” for students entering sixth through twelfth grades. These students will be able to select two master classes from areas such as production, music, choreography and improvisation. The camp will be held from 3-6 p.m. on Monday-Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday.

While this is an opportunity for older students to take more advanced fine art classes, Ballew said it is also a chance for the pre-teens and teenagers to develop leadership skills. During the day, Camp “After Hours” students can serve as leaders to the children. Rising sixth graders can work as counselors in training, while seventh-twelfth graders can serve as junior and senior counselors.

“We want to let the students lead,” Ballew said. “We have volunteer parents who serve as mentors to the teenagers. They are there to take a passive role and help the teenagers, but we ultimately want our youth to be the leaders.”

Camp ARTselle and Camp “After Hours” can only accept a limited number of students; however, there are still open spots left for this year’s camps. Ballew said that, although they will sometimes have spots open on the day camp begins, he encourages parents to register their students in advance to ensure that they have the opportunity to attend.

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