Nothing seemed more important to a group of elementary students on a recent morning than being able to correctly draw the wings of a butterfly.
With summer’s end closing in, the students already were happily confined to desks in a Joe Nightingale Elementary classroom as part of a weeklong “bio illustration” camp, courtesy of the Orcutt Children’s Arts Foundation.
The furious erasers and careful artists — with insect journals in hand — were among the 80 youths signed up for any or all five of the fee-based Orcutt Arts Academy classes offered this summer by OCAF, which was founded 11 years ago to fund arts in the Orcutt Union School District.
Enrollment in the summer academy is comparable to last year, but OCAF Executive Director Hannah Rubalcava said this year’s camp reserved 14 slots for children who normally wouldn’t be able to pay to participate via donations from the Salvation Army — an organization that embraces using arts as a way to end the cycle of poverty.
The camp topics were also switched up a bit to attract more boys to fill slots often dominated by girls.
“It’s so different year to year,” Rubalcava said. “We trying to find more that would appeal to boys. Bugs works.”
Sure enough, an even split of boys and girls were enrolled in last week’s bio illustration course.
Drawing bugs may have been an easy segue into learning about the benefits of the insects, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.
Swallowtail butterflies were scrawled near pictures of crickets and other insects children had questions about.
“The monarch is the one we hear about most often here,” said instructor Stephanie Krouse, who later added that the bugs provide a lot of talking points.
Students were also able to examine pieces of a large sunflower under microscopes.
During a short break, third-grader Marcus Corbo and fourth-grader Giacomo Curti said drawing the bugs was their favorite part of the art class so far.
“Art camp rocks,” Giacomo said, noting that his favorite insects are arthropods — “the ones with a lot of legs.”
They both said they were looking forward to future camps, including the music class that would signal the end of summer and the beginning of the school year.