MAC camps inspire kids to use creativity

By Bethany Knipp

Manhattan area children are learning about all things artistic at Camp MAC 2014 this summer.

Camp MAC is put on by the Manhattan Arts Center where young people in grades 1-6 can attend weekly camps inspired by children’s stories where they do arts and crafts, act out theater scenes and play games.

Week 1 of camp, called Camp Wonderland based on ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll, started Monday.

‘We want to give the kids a creative outlet for their summer,’ Kim Belanger, the MAC’s director of education and marketing, said. ‘There’re a lot of active camps out there and we wanted to give them sort of an outlet for art and theater and give them an exposure to the arts that they might not usually have.’

Belanger said the camps are inspired by literature — including ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Marice Sendak and ‘The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien — as a means of exposure and as a way to let the kids create things inspired by the stories.

IN DRAMA instructor Barrett Scroggs’ class, the children worked on acting out their own scenes from ‘Alice and Wonderland’ with their own touches. The kids wrote the scenes themselves. In one scene campers acted out Thursday, the Queen of Hearts, played by Belanger’s 11-year-old daughter Indigo, crashes a tea party and searches for Alice (Logan Greim). but Alice’s friends are purposefully confusing the queen regarding to protect Alice. That scene was performed by the older kids attending the camp.

In another scene, this one performed by the younger campers, the tea party is interrupted by a rainstorm. Both scenarios were concocted by the campers.

‘For the most part, the scenes that we’ll be showing here are written by them,’ Scroggs said. ‘It’s really amazing to see the stuff that comes out the tops of their heads,’ he said.

The exercise, Scroggs said, helps the kids work as a team and take some chances.

‘[It’s]giving them a chance to recognize that there’s no wrong answer in theater,’ he said. ‘The silly chance that they took by saying, ‘What if it starts raining?’ becomes the thing of the script.’

OVER IN the MAC’s creative studio building, the younger kids were making whimsical construction paper hats to fit the ‘Wonderland’ theme.

‘I think Friday might be the funnest part of the week,’ Kaylin Garrett, 7, said. ‘‘Cause we’re having a play of ‘Alice and Wonderland.’’ Kaylin plays Alice in the younger children’s play.

‘She falls into a hole, and she pops out and then a cat starts talking to her and asks her if she wants to go to a tea party and she says like ‘yes’ or something else,’ Kaylin said. ‘They go to the tea party and Mad Hatter says, ‘Who is she?’ but I can’t remember anything else.’

That’s where the rainstorm that interrupts the tea party comes in.

Kaylin said that in a couple weeks, she might attend another camp, which she referred to as ‘spy camp,’ officially Camp Mysterious, based on mystery novels. The kids will become detectives and make puzzle artwork that week.

Indigo, the older children’s Queen of Hearts, is preparing for an acting career by attending all of the six camps the MAC has to offer this summer, which include Art-Chitecture Camp and a twoweek intensive theater camp called ‘Aesop’s Fableland.’

Indigo’s ambition is part of her mother’s motivation to help bring the arts to the kids.

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