Over the last two weeks, the kids at Camp Imagine completed all sorts of art projects, took dance lessons and participated in improv theater.
All those activities were popular, but after three months of online school and a summer of social distancing, perhaps the biggest thrill was even simpler.
“It’s been nice to have camp in person and talk to people,” Ahmed Adbul-Basit, 12, said.
The Newark Arts Alliance has hosted the camp for 22 years, but this summer’s iteration was like no other, NAA Executive Director Terry Foreman said.
Only eight kids signed up, compared to the usual 36. Campers couldn’t play together and instead each sat at their own table while wearing a mask and used their own set of art supplies.
The usual singing lessons weren’t feasible because of the increased risk of spreading coronavirus. Traditional group projects weren’t possible either.
“You can’t have them side-by-side painting a mural or making a sculpture,” Foreman said. “It really limits what you can do.”
Instead, Foreman and the other teachers got creative and found collaborative projects that could be done while social distancing. For instance, the campers all created colorful feathers out of paper, and Foreman combined them all to create a set of giant bird wings that the students could pose for photos with.
The kids also got a chance to work on a number of individual art projects, including decorating face masks.
Foreman said that NAA felt an obligation to keep the camp going this year, especially with a lot of other camps canceled this summer.
“It’s really important for the kids to have some meaningful artistic activity this summer. They’ve been out of school and haven’t had art class since March,” she said. “To have an in-person experience is valuable. I feel proud we can offer that.”
10-year-old Sasha Coulter agreed.
“It’s nice to have camp person to person,” she said.
Sasha said her favorite part of the camp was an art project that taught the kids about germs and asked the kids to invent their own type of germ. Hers was a glittery pink and blue creation.
“It lives on your tongue and goes around to other germs and takes their tongues,” she explained.
Ahmed enjoyed making trading cards to exchange with the other campers.
“We got to customize our own cards and give them to people,” he said.
Sophia Grabowski, 8, said her favorite activity was tracing characters out of her favorite book. Sierra Holmes, 8, said the best part was making new friends.
Ten-year-old Sophie Kinderman said she enjoyed making a marbled sketchbook and participating in theater lessons. Her 9-year-old brother, Lucas, liked creating artwork of a wolf.
“We cut out pieces of paper and glued it to make a picture,” he explained.