As spring break comes to a close, many kids will be looking forward to their next adventure: Summer 2017! For that reason, we’ve created a comprehensive Noozhawk Summer Camp Guide to aid you in your search for the perfect summer camp for your child.

Do the children in your life love to draw, sculpt or paint? Then the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s summer programs may be the perfect opportunity to get their hands dirty while using creativity to create their very own works of art.

We spoke with Rachael Krieps, manager of SBMA’s Art Camps, to learn more.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Question: What is the name of your Summer Camp and what is its mission?

Answer: Our camps are called the SBMA Art Camps. Our mission at the museum is to “integrate art into the lives of people,” and each theme is inspired by the museum’s permanent collection or special exhibitions. The art on view at the museum, at 1130 State St., is one of the core philosophies of our camps.

Q: Describe the activities involved in SBMA’s art camps.

A: Each week of art camp has a different theme inspired by works of art that are currently on view at the museum. From this starting point, several art projects are planned for the week that focus on a progression of skills that are really engaging and emphasize the artistic experience.

Although each day is essentially structured the same, lessons vary and we offer several opportunities throughout the day for relaxing and other nonart-related activities, such as reading, games and playing outside. On the last day of the week, campers proudly exhibit their unique works of art in a show for their family and friends to come and see.

Each campers’ art truly reflects their personal interpretation of the art they were exposed to that week, and to me, their work is always as creative as it is beautiful.

Q: What is the age range for children to take part in your camps?

A:We have two camps simultaneously during the summer, a multimedia camp for ages 5-12, and a camp devoted to ceramics for ages 6-14. We also have a really fantastic Teaching Assistant Program. Local high school students ages 15-18 who are interested in art and working with children, can come and earn their required community service hours in a fun and creative environment.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art allows campers to connect with orginal works of art while fostering a love for the museum in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art allows campers to connect with orginal works of art while fostering a love for the museum in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. (Santa Barbara Museum of Art photo)

Q: What goals do you have for kids participating in your camp?

A: Well, of course our primary goal is that kids have FUN!!! In addition to a fun and memorable experience, we strive for kids to be exposed to an assortment of high-quality art materials while exploring a variety of art fundamentals, such as drawing, painting, sculpting and color composition.

Another vital goal is that children strengthen their art vocabulary and take away an appreciation for art history and the artistic process. Through our lessons, we hope students will accomplish these goals while also developing a sense of self-expression and personal ownership through creative expression.

Q: When was SBMA's Art Camps first started and what was the inspiration for creating it?

A: SBMA Art Camps found a home when Katharine McCormick left a large residence to the museum in 1991. Through her extremely generous donation, along with another from Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree and her (late) husband, Lord Paul Ridley-Tree, the McCormick House at 1600 Santa Barbara St. was renovated and transformed into an offsite education facility.

SBMA Art Camps started approximately 25 years ago. It serves a need and a desire in our community for children to have the opportunity to create fine art — and in an extremely beautiful and tranquil environment.

Q: What can parents expect their kids to gain from participating in your camp or program?

A: Whether their children are seasoned artists or trying their hand at art for the first time, parents can expect their children to gain an understanding of the artistic process, from brainstorming and sketching thoughts, to the carefully constructed end product.

Children will be exposed to an extensive variety of artistic techniques, movements/genres and materials, which will further their appreciation for art. During instruction, children will improve their ability to organize and interpret information that is seen and give meaning to it.

Parents can also expect their kids to gain the ability to analyze the elements of art and principles of design. From all of this, students will gain confidence, a sense of belonging to the museum, and a sense of pride to be part of an artistic community.

Q: What is the best part about your program, in your opinion?

A: I’d have to say the best part about our programs are the strong and long lasting relationships we build through our (spring and summer) camps. Often times, our camps are the first point of access to the museum for many families. By nurturing our relationships with families, we have the great honor of creating a love for the museum, and are able to introduce the families to the other amazing programs and opportunities we offer at the museum.

On a heartfelt personal note, nothing is more gratifying than a child running through the door of the museum or even seeing you somewhere completely unrelated, shouting your name and giving you a big hug because they remember you from camp. That, to me. is the best part of our camp, and I feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment in creating a warm and welcoming environment.

Q: Describe what makes your camp unique?

A: Our camps are unique because they connect to original works of art. Not only are the camps inspired by the original works of art, the students get to visit the museum for a field trip to see them up close and personal. That alone, I think, make the camps valuable.

However, I also think our camp is unique because of the comaraderie it creates. In just a week, we are able to create a community of young artists who are able to build lasting relationships. Children might make a connection with one of our teaching artists and then see them again at the museum for our Studio Sundays on the front steps, Family 1st Thursdays, or even a program at their school.

Or it might be a new friendship they made with another student who was visiting from another state or country, or even just another school here in town. Whatever the case, our camps really seem to foster these special relationships.

Q: Describe a favorite activity for children in your camp?

A: Probably working with clay, especially in our ceramics camp! It is such a popular camp and always sells out, and I really think has to do with the medium itself. There is something so gratifying and almost therapeutic in working with the clay. It is definitely a fan favorite!

Q: In what ways is your program educational?

A: The very philosophy of our camp is educational, as we are connecting our lessons to the original works of art and their associated cultural history.

Our lessons incorporate Visual Thinking Strategies, which foster higher order thinking, such as enhanced communication, visual literacy skills, problem solving and critical thinking. All of these skills can be applied across curriculum areas in school, but also help to develop temperaments that promote self-discipline, resourcefulness and awareness.

These skills allow children to look carefully and observe detail. They provide children with the ability to question, envision and explore alternative possibilities, and encourage a willingness to consider other perspectives and self-reflection. Essentially, children are developing life-long, analytical skills that they can apply to many areas of their life.

Q: What else should parents know when deciding whether to send their kids to your summer program?

A: In addition to the many educational benefits our camp offers, it takes place in a big, beautiful house, our offsite educational facility, The Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House. The facility is located in a safe and quiet neighborhood, directly across from Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, which lends itself as a mecca for additional exploration and inspiration and, on occasion, a peaceful and playful place for our lunch break. Our camp values diversity and exemplifies positivity, patience, flexibility and empathy.

When there is a connection with our theme, we often partner with other local organizations that will visit our camp to give a demonstration or enrichment experience for the children. We also partner with several other organizations, schools and individuals to provide scholarships for children in need, and, when possible, we offer extended (after-camp) care.

Click here to learn more or to register for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Art Camp.

Campers experince a memorable summer during which they build strong and long lasting-relationships at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Art Camp.
Campers experince a memorable summer during which they build strong and long lasting-relationships at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Art Camp. (Santa Barbara Museum of Art photo)

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