Camp Blue Sky provides learning experiences for local youths every summer, but this year the arts camp’s theme has been educational for the organizers and instructors, as well.
“We’ve been learning a lot, in many ways,” said Barbara Cooney, a founder and organizer of the camp. “It’s a topic that has been brewing for a long time.”
That topic is “Far Out East: Raku, Haiku and How To,” which will focus on Asian art and influences. To prepare, camp personnel made trips to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City; Cooney said its collection of Asian art ranks among the best in the world. The instructors took part in workshops at the museum, and Cooney said the museum staff “was very hospitable and helpful.”
“Asia is very rich in what it offers in the area of the arts,” she said. “It is rich with art forms many might not be familiar with. ... China is so prevalent in the news and in our world. It is exciting to learn more about it.”
Lori Swearingen, Camp Blue Sky’s enrichment coordinator, likes the Asian theme, although she admitted it will provide some challenges.
“It’s going to be really fun,” she said. “It will allow teachers and our director (Missy Mays) a lot of freedom to explore all different Asian cultures. We’re going to incorporate a little of everything — martial arts, Chinese New Year, and even sushi made out of Rice Krispies and Froot By The Foot.”
The camp, which runs from July 30 to Aug. 3 at State Fair Community College, has fewer than 10 openings, but none in the preschool or enrichment groups; enrichment is for students in grades 6-8.
“We typically are full. It used to be more full earlier in summer,” Swearingen said. “Last year, we had a waiting list; this year, we might get close to that. The kids really enjoy (the camp), and it comes at a great time of year.”
Cooney is grateful that Camp Blue Sky takes place at SFCC, where students are able to experience college facilities such as the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art.
“While they are playing on a college campus, they can develop an interest in higher learning, then they will be more familiar with the facilities when they get back onto the campus,” Cooney said.
Cooney’s hope each year is for the camp participants to realize they can be more creative.
“I’d like them to develop an exuberance for arts, for doing art together and with a certain playfulness,” she said.
Noting that many youths’ schedules are stretched with other activities, including sports, she added that Camp Blue Sky can “give a child a chance to play in a different way, with more freedom.”
Swearingen said that the camp has proven to have a good formula that brings kids back year after year, and it gets good feedback from the community.
“It’s crazy fun,” she said. “I hope everyone puts their happy face on and comes out to play and get messy.”
Concerning this year’s Asian influence, Cooney said: “In one sense, it is everywhere; but in another, we don’t know or hear about it. ... It will be good to become a little more worldly in Sedalia.”