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By Audrey Anderson
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The Charles River Creative Arts Program, held in the summer at the Charles River School in Dover, is celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary this year. Since 1969, the camp has emphasized critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative skills, while students study performing and visual arts, athletics, and technology.
Walking through the campus, you can sense the celebratory energy of the program. Decorations, projects and signs are everywhere. Signs and an outdoor “board” game teach environmental concepts. 50th anniversary signs are abundant. Colorful streamers hanging from the top of a covered walkway flutter in the breeze. Children rush from one activity to another, wearing camp tee-shirts signed on the back by their new camp friends.
Camp classes are taught by professional artists/musicians and mentors, and they include topics in the visual arts, animation, athletics, cooking, dance, theater, music, video, photography, technology, textiles, and writing. Campers (6–15 years old) choose five classes per day from 100 options.
The first session of this summer’s Charles River Creative Arts Program culminated on Saturday, July 20, with a Festival Day featuring stunning visual art pieces and lively theater and music performances by the campers for the benefit of their parents, camp instructors, and mentors. The children were engaged, joyful, and proud of what they have accomplished.
Indoor visual arts exhibits included quilting and knitting projects, fashion drawings, macramé wall hangings and plant hangers, clay sculptures, 3D paper sculptures, comic strips and sketch books, and animations and other videos.
In Foster Hall, the students presented plays, improv sketches, dance, a cabaret, and a fashion show. On the outdoor Tent Stage, campers performed in musical ensembles.
Athletic events included gymnastics, synchronized swimming, and volleyball. Other events were focused on cooking demonstrations and writing.
The a cappella group performed pieces that demonstrated their skill in working together to keep a steady tempo, relating to the audience, and singing in beautiful harmony. Among the pieces were “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Nobody but the Baby.” Soloist Piper Newman entertained the audience with a strong, well-developed voice and confident stage manner.In the drum lesson demonstration, Ella Fogler delighted the audience with her talent with rhythm, dexterity, serious devotion, and joy in her instrument. She listened carefully to her teacher’s comments before beginning a new section and delivered a great performance. Her tight sense of rhythm made people bob their heads, tap their feet, and then clap enthusiastically.
The guitar workshop performed several songs, including the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” They sang along with their playing and the audience couldn’t help but sing along, as well.
The fashion show included outfits repurposed during the camp session from a selection of used clothing and trimmings kept in a big box. One girl cut off the top of a tee-shirt and created straps made of zippers. She also filled in the back of the shirt with several bands of zippers. Another girl came onto the stage seeming to wear a denim jacket, top, and jeans. Then she took off the “jacket” to reveal the surprise: she had removed the sleeves from the jacket and sewed them onto the top.
Finally, Girl Band rocked the stage with girl-themed songs, dance moves, and attitude. Several singers performed solos, and girls also play guitar, bass, piano, and drums.
During the whole Festival Day, the campers’ joy and excitement shined through, as well as their confidence and creativity. The Charles River Creative Arts Program has developed a wonderful camp experience over its 50 years, and one would expect it will continue to be a stellar place for kids to learn and create.