Walworth County camp aims to expose students to the arts
Looking around, one could see it’s also for fun’s sake, for learning’s sake and for the sake of making really cool things to hang on the walls at home.
More than 50 students from around Walworth County this week attended a five-day fine arts camp at United Church of Christ Congregational, 123 E. Washington St. This is the third summer the church has hosted the camp.
The theme this year is “art for art’s sake.”
The program is not religious and is intended to expose children to art as a lifelong practice, Director Sharon Munson said. Running such a camp takes space, financial support and a visionary “that sees the global picture of the arts,” she said.
Considering the musical and artistic talents of many church members, the program is a good way for the church to support children in the community, Munson said.
Camp participants, all of whom are in grades 2 through 7, learned about self-portraits, impressionism, folk art and pop art. When possible, lessons were incorporated in all classes, which included visual arts, culinary arts, drama, music, dance and creating writing.
Today, campers are on a field trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum.
The fine arts project is an idea that bubbled for many years, said Munson, a self-described “camp person” and retired music teacher at Big Foot Area School District and UW-Whitewater.
The church always has had a very strong music program, she said. About the time church members starting brainstorming an outreach program for children, Munson talked with a friend who was having great success with an after-school arts program in another state.
The idea clicked, she said.
The camp started with visual arts, music and drama classes. After three years, it has added programs and kept the cost for the weeklong camp at $40.
That cost includes lunch and snacks, Munson said.
The church gives money to support the camp, and church members have made donations for scholarships.
Many camp instructors work in the Delavan-Darien School District. One is visual arts instructor Kathy Sibilski, who is a teachers aid by day and an artist in her free time.
This week, Sibilski contentedly painted over smudges on “Dutch hex signs” colored by students.
The signs are bits of folk art commonly seen on barns or old homes and were thought to ward off evil, Sibilski said. Shapes and colors were thought to have the power to influence a home. Yellow symbolized health, and wheat symbolized abundance, for example.
The finished product has a kaleidoscope effect as the patterns are repeated around small circles.
Sibilski has taught at the camp for three years.
“It’s the highlight of my summer,” she said.
IF YOU GO
What: Presentations of art created and skills learned at the United Church of Christ Congregational, Delavan, Fine Arts Day Camp.
When: 2 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday during services.
Where: The church is located at 123 E. Washington St., Delavan.
Details: Presentations will include music and drama. Art will be on display, and cookies baked by campers will be available.
To learn more: To participate in next year’s program or to talk about starting your own camp, call (262) 728-2212.