San Mateo County Day Camping for Art
by Dyane Hendricks
Pull out the leg warmers, tune the piano and rinse off the paintbrushes. Young artists have the chance to try something new this summer at the day camps offered by the Shely Pack Dancers, Fly on the Wall, and the Peninsula Youth Orchestra.
The Shely Pack Dancers camp features theater arts, singing and even circus acrobatics in addition to dance techniques, said Dance Master Shely Pack, who has an extensive theater background. Learning dance helps children build their self-esteem, she said. “It’s amazing to watch their progress,” said Pack, adding that even children who feel uncoordinated “gain self-confidence as they get lost in what they’re doing.” This self-confidence will follow them through life, she said.
From preschool through high school, campers find themselves playing theater games and trying improvisation. Older students work on monologues, character studies and singing techniques.
Dancers will study West Side Story this summer — and that’s not a random selection. Peter Chursin, a former Shely Pack student and a Mr. Dance of America winner, dances in the current Broadway production. Chursin, who is hearing impaired, is proof that anyone can achieve greatness as a dancer. Many of the Shely Pack dancers, some of whom travel from as far away as Fremont, have won national competitions and performed in professional productions, including The Nutcracker, Wicked and Fame.
The grand finale of dance camp is a review for parents who will see even the preschool children on stage.
The day camp is held at the Ted Adcock Community Center in Half Moon Bay.
The Fly On The Wall camps also offer diversion from regular classes for students in kindergarten through high school.
“We’re all about creativity,” said Susan Carkeek-Harris, director and instructor at the Shoreline Station art studio in Half Moon Bay. She explained that classes, where students select their own projects, are designed to allow a child’s skill-building to develop by focusing on individual interests and efforts. This approach allows the young artists to work within themselves and develop their own creativity.
The weeklong camp programs, which are project-oriented, highlight elements of art including cartooning and toymaking, medieval art, fashion design, plus drawing and painting.
Despite the more structured format, India Bolding, 14, of Half Moon Bay, who has attended the day camps since age 8, said, “You get to work with materials that you don’t normally use, like glassblowing.”
Combining the camp and regular class schedules provides a viable child care alternative for working parents. The camps run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by regular classes from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Outdoor activity and movies during lunch are also included in the camp program.
The Peninsula Youth Orchestra offers young musicians the opportunity to experiment in strings, flutes, chamber ensembles and, of course, percussion while having the opportunity to work with guest master artists.
With daily emphasis and enrichment programs, there’s a lot campers can accomplish to improve their skills, said Sara Salsbury, summer camp director.
There are no auditions, but campers are required to have nine to 12 months of training at school or in private lessons, Salsbury said. No classes to learn an instrument are available. Exceptions are violinists who are interested in learning viola or string bass, commonly placed on the “endangered instrument” list.
The goal of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra is to bring together young musicians reflecting the cultural diversity in San Mateo County, said Salsbury. Campers avail themselves of the library, soccer balls and basketball hoops during breaks at John Gill School in Redwood City where the program is held. “These kids have never met, but they get out there and play basketball as if they’ve known each other their entire lives,” Salsbury said.
The music camps begin when the Peninsula Youth Orchestra returns from a European tour. The orchestra performed a free concert in Redwood City called “Latin Accents” on May 1 as part of the community outreach program.
For more information about the summer day camps visit:
Shely Pack Dancers at www.shely packdancers.com, or call 650-726-7811.
Fly on the Wall at www.flyonthewall artist.com, or call 650-726-8125.
Peninsula Youth Orchestra at www.peninsulayouthorchestra.org, or call 650-325-7967.
On the Web:
There are several other summer camp programs for the arts in the Bay Area, including the Coastside. Please visit www.bayareakidfun.com/pages/ campsarts.html for more information.
For other local art camps not included on that list, see www.coastviewsmag.com.