Tuesday 26th July, 2005


Happy days at camp

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Children attending Visual and Performing Arts Camp at San Fernando Senior Comprehensive School.

Daryl Stoute teaches a child at the camp to walk on stilts.

Photos: Cori Baynes

By Leah Mathura-Dookhoo

A conga line of little moko jumbies greeted the Guardian team at the Visual and Performing Arts Kids Camp in San Fernando last Friday, when toddlers and happy campers put on a show for their parents and tutors.

At first glimpse you would have thought it was a children’s carnival band jumping up on the compound of the San Fernando Senior Comprehensive School.

On the lawn of the facility, children wearing stilts with butterfly masks and wings made of coloured crepe paper, pranced in the mid-afternoon sun.

But, according to director of the camp Deborah Hutchinson, it was two weeks of happy work by the children, brought to life by the sweet sounds of soca.

Hutchinson is a university-trained art teacher and author of the book Colour Me Beautiful.

She said it was the yearning inside of her to promote love and stamp out hate and violence that led to the idea of opening such a camp.

According to Hutchinson, with very little camps in south she had a successful registration process and accepted only 65 kids.

Together with other art teachers, Hutchinson found a convenient location, imported art materials from the United States and began the registration process.

Upon registration, campers were given a box filled with art materials to create an Art Keeper, where all their precious works are stored.

Every Friday they are allowed to take it home where it is placed on exhibit.

“Children can learn so much if they put art in their lives. It would get rid of all the negatives. Children can concentrate and put together their experience and their future on paper. That is art,” Hutchinson said.

“It helps one’s temperament.”

The camp, claimed by Hutchinson to being the first of its kind locally, caters for children ages three to ten and focuses on the world’s varying cultures, this country’s environment and creating peace in our twin-island republic.

In addition, students are taken on field trips where they sit and sketch landmarks and put together a scrapbook on their feelings.

They engage in the construction of oriental Chinese garment, decorate their classrooms with paper Egyptian pyramids, dance and write Egyptian.

During the past week campers learnt the art of African and tassa drumming, how to walk on stilts and how to put together an atlas.

“The children go home learning something new every day,” Hutchinson said.

However, she believes it was their trip to The Hanuman Murti in Waterloo, which got the campers excited. Many, she said, were left in awe. Once on the compound campers were challenged to sketch the holy shrine on a piece of white paper using charcoals.

“Although we teach art, the children get their daily math and English. Everything we teach here is based on the primary school curriculum,” Hutchinson said.

Encouraged by the success of this year’s camp, Hutchinson is already planning next year’s event, which she says will take place on a larger scale.




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