Hudgens Center offers fun summer camps for kids

The Hudgens Center for the Arts has launched an eight-week series of summer camps for kids age 5 to 12. Running Monday through Friday, the camps have three themes that recur so that no matter the family schedule, a child can take advantage of a camp theme that is especially inviting.

Camps began June 1 and will run every week through July 31. Instead of the usual two-week camp, the Hudgens Center decided to break each camp into one-week sessions. Acting executive director Teresa Osborn said, "We felt that one week camp sessions offer parents more flexibility for their schedules and their pocketbooks. They can pick and choose which weeks will work for them."

Three fun themes, two repeated three times and one repeated twice, will fill the summer. They include "It's a Weird World Out There! (Monsters and Aliens," which ran June 1 to today but will return for June 22 to 26 and July 20 to 24. The second is titled "Fantasy Worlds" and runs June 8 to 12, July 6 to 10 and July 27 to 31. The third theme is "Under the Sea" and will be held June 15 to 18 and July 13 to 17.

A large part of the camp action is under the eye of lead teacher Emma Grace, who teaches art at Creekland Middle School during the scholastic year. Grace described some of the artistic masterpieces that campers will create.

Each day, children experience instruction in drawing and painting, mixed media, sculpture, ceramics and drama. On Friday, a special presentation is held for family and friends to enjoy. This presentation is a culmination of the artwork, costumes, masks, scenery and dramatic training that have gone on all week.

"The Weird World of Monsters and Aliens" has Grace helping children create clay masks inspired by pictures of monsters and aliens supplied by the staff.

"Our Friday drama presentation for this theme is inspired by 'Where the Wild Things Are,' and the mixed media class is making papier-mache masks for the performers. My class is also creating clay aliens," Grace said.

"Fantasy Worlds" will lean heavily on surrealism.

"This theme will utilize dreamlike ideas, our own dreams and fantasies," Grace said. "'Under the Sea' will find campers making whales, mermaids, sharks and ceramic fish."

Grace said learning artistic skills is very important to children: "With art, children use their creativity for emotional release and to develop motor skills. It helps reading development and problem solving. Kids need to have problems to solve, and art is a great way to get them to think for themselves."

Camp starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cost is $175 per week, and campers bring their own lunches.

Special camps for teens are also available. A "Cool Clay Fest" happens Monday to June 18, allowing campers to create pieces on the pottery wheel or use hand-building techniques. The "July Jewelry Fest" will run from July 6 to 17, where campers will create finished pieces of jewelry.

For more information about these camps, call the Hudgens Center at 770-623-6002 or visit www.artsgwinnett.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.