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Young minds explore art, science during annual camp

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Benjamin Matt, 11, moved a paintbrush across his paper, adding color to the praying mantis he was creating on a large sheet of green paper. It was the last day of art camp in Charlo on Thursday, so he needed to get the project finished for the big show that night where all the camp projects would be displayed.

The Ninepipe Arts Group hosted the 19th Annual Summer Fine Arts Camp last week at the Charlo School District. The group organizes several events during the year to raise funds for the camp to make sure local children are exposed to art. “The most important thing about this is that children get to have a new experience,” said organizer Caroline Myhre.

Every year, the group comes up with a new camp theme. One year, the focus was on the art of sound. Wild animals were used another year. And this year, bugs made the agenda. “It’s called ‘Buggy About Art’ this year,” Myhre explained. 

About 55 children attend the weeklong camp. At the beginning of the week, an insect expert brought in live bugs to show the kids, including live cockroaches and a walking stick. The children got a chance to let the bugs crawl on their fingers, Myhre said. The lesson also looked at bug habitats. During the following days, the children took those science lessons and created several bug-focused projects, including a bug environment with a paper-based green background, bugs using recycled materials and many others. Several volunteer teachers lead different age-based projects.

For several hours each day, the rooms at the school were filled with children creating art. In the gym, a group sat on the floor, surrounded by colorful markers, as they created large beetles. Kim Detert, the teacher for this project, said to the kids: “You don’t have to color in the lines.” She encouraged them to use their imaginations to create a unique creation. 

Teacher Chelle Lambson is an architect by training and used her skills and passion for art to help the children learn about bilateral symmetry in conjunction with arthropods like spiders, crabs and earwigs. The students used lines to draw one side of a bug then worked to create the other side with a focus on symmetry. Pastel watercolors highlighted the work. 

Lambson said the children were learning to use science and art together. “They use the materials to describe a vision they create from their imaginations,” she said. 

With another project, the children reinvented common bugs. One child took the idea of nature’s queen bee and design a “king bee,” complete with a crown and sword. Another project involved a “splider,” which was the combination of a spider and a ladybug. The child creating this project pointed out that it had several eyes like a real spider.

Artist Olivia Olsen helped the older kids create block prints by carving out designs on a rubber block and transferring them to a watercolor painting. Olsen walked around the room to help where needed. “I really like what you are doing with that background,” she said while talking to a child.

The Ninepipe Arts Group gives children a survey to complete on the last day in an effort to find out what kids think of the camp. The overall consensus was that the children liked spending time with their friends while creating art. The group will continue fundraising to put on another camp next year.  




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