The Scoop on Summer Arts Camps

Katie Halushka, 14, prepares to roll sushi as a part of the Kids Cook summer camp at For the Love of Food in Pikesville. (Provided)

Baltimore’s wide range of cultural offerings don’t just cater to adults. Artistically inclined kids can find and fulfill their creativity this summer at an impressive number of local camps. We’ve highlighted a few of them.

Habimah Arts Camp at the JCC’s Owings Mills campus brings a wide range of the area’s art offerings to one place. Campers ages 3 and up can choose from visual arts, performing arts or a combination of genres to suit their interests.

Camp director Melissa Seltzer said in the past, the JCC has worked with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Improv Group and professional artists, so kids learn from the artists themselves. Muralist Paul Merkle helped the kids paint a mural one year, and stage makeup artists came to help kids turn themselves into zombies and clowns. The kids also take art-focused field trips to places such as Imagination Stage and the American Visionary Art Museum. The best part, said Seltzer, is the variety offered in the central location of the JCC’s facilities. Kids “can have all these amazing experiences … and also go swimming.”

If your child is a budding Steven Spielberg, the Young Filmmakers Workshop with Steve Yeager has kids make three feature films in three weeks, rotating through all the work of the cast and production crew. After editing, the films premiere at an area movie theater.

Last year, the kids arrived by limousine at Cinemark in Harbor East for a private showing of their movies. Yeager, a filmmaker for 30 years whose biopic of John Waters won best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, said his camp is unique because “kids participate in a real film situation.”

“It’s the closest facsimile to a real filmmaking experience you can get,” he said. “I’ve been teaching acting for the camera [at Towson University] for 17 years. I don’t want kids to get unrealistic expectations about the business. I want them to see all the jobs, everything that’s involved in making a movie.”

Yeager said he “sets the bar high” for professionalism in the movies the kids create, and the experience is rewarding for him and his campers because “they’re really making high-quality films here.” Kids younger than 13 begin in the general program, Explorations in Film, while older kids choose a focus: acting for the camera, filmmaking or production design. A loose ‘theme’ links the three films: This year’s focus is film noir.

Is cooking an art? Perhaps not the way it’s done in my house, but Nancy Longo of Pierpoint Restaurant said it absolutely can be. “They teach cooking at culinary arts schools, right?” she said, laughing.

Longo, an award-winning chef, holds cooking camps for kids who want to learn how to work safely in the kitchen. With themed camp days such as Mexican, brunch, dessert, chocolate, soups, Italian and more, kids learn how to artistically blend ingredients, creating 8 to 11 plates, which they bring home each night to their hungry and excited families. Kids must be at least 10 years old or “old enough to handle a knife,” said Longo. There is no online signup: Longo wants to speak to each parent individually.

“I need to know if your child has food allergies or is a picky eater, [and I want] to make sure it’s the right fit,” she said. Longo offers individual cooking classes too for children and adults.

The art of theater is the art of storytelling, said Michelle Alexander, education director of Everyman Theatre. And “learning to create stories” is the first step in learning stagecraft. The youngest campers at Everyman’s camps, ages K to 2, use play, drama and music to “kick-start their creativity.” In grades 3 to 5, kids “enter into the theater-making process,” interpreting “tall tales and legends while learning about collaboration onstage.” Teens enter Everyman’s four-week acting intensive. This camp is “skills based,” Alexander explains, to help students “further themselves as actors and artists.” Teens study musical theater, cabaret, stage combat, dance, improvisation and even clowning.

“As a professional theater, the quality of our education reflects the quality of the theater,” Alexander said. Everyman offers adult classes too. “Theater skills help you become a better speaker. And improv is a great skill for networking,” said Alexander. Thinking on your feet “really helps when you have to talk to [strangers] at cocktail parties.”

Erica Rimlinger is a local freelance writer.

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