Creative juices flowing at arts camps

Kaleidoscope summer arts campers sing the "Oompa Loompa Song" in their singing class Wednesday. The kids are preparing for their camp finale next week.

Kaleidoscope summer arts campers sing the "Oompa Loompa Song" in their singing class Wednesday. The kids are preparing for their camp finale next week.

— Efforts to turn ordinary beads into something that resembled gumballs just wasn’t working to Stockbridge youth Mikaila Manley’s satisfaction Wednesday.

The beads will eventually be strung together to make “candy” necklaces to be used in the Willy Wonka-themed finale of Arts Clayton’s Kaleidoscope Summer Arts Camp. Manley, 12, and her classmates are making sets for the finale as part of their set design class in the similar Young Teen Camp that Arts Clayton also sponsors.

But something wasn’t quite right about the beads, which Manley had to dip by hand into brightly colored paint. She couldn’t put her finger on what was wrong though so she went to her set design instructor, Arlene Bellamy, for help.

“The beads aren’t working — I’m not feeling it,” Manley said.

“Don’t worry, we’ll make it work,” Bellamy said.

The Kaleidoscope and Young Teen camps are at their halfway point and participants are busy preparing for their respective finales. The “Wizard of Oz”-themed finale of the Young Teen Camp will be held Thursday at 6 p.m., and the Kaleidoscope camp’s finale will be held Friday at 6 p.m.

Both finales will be held at James A. Jackson Elementary School, 7711 Mt. Zion Blvd. in Jonesboro. The Kaleidoscope finale will include a celebrate of the camp’s 20th anniversary.

As campers and staff worked furiously on projects this week, they universally said the camp was going well this year.

“It’s going exceptionally well but that comes from having quality teachers who have lesson plans that are prepared,” said Camp Administrator Elizabeth Gower. “We’re not flying by the seat of our pants. We’re ready. They submitted their lesson plans two months ago, so if someone says ‘What are you doing today?,’ I can pull the lesson plan and say ‘This is what they’re doing in painting today.’”

There are 115 elementary school-age children in the Kaleidoscope camp. Gower said 49 of the 50 spots in the young teen camp were filled this week. She said it was harder to say how many young teen campers there were because some only took one class and some took two classes.

Several children were eager to share what they’ve been working on so far.

“We’ve been working on water sculptures and paper sculptures and burning them [in a kiln],” said Tommy Sullivan, 7, of Atlanta, who is taking camp classes in 3-D sculptures and dance. Chloe Draper, 7, of Hampton spent Wednesday morning assembling an elaborate flower pot adorned with spirals and hearts along the sides and rim. She said it was a gift for her father.

“I’m trying to do something nice for him since he’s always doing nice things for me,” Draper said.

Their 3-D and clay sculptures teacher, Briana Long, said the children have also made candy shaped sculptures to fit in with the Willy Wonka theme.

“We’ve made giant candy bars and lolly pops so far,” said Long. “They have been wonderful so far. Everyone has behaved themselves and it’s really been no stress at all.”

Bellamy said the set design students have been bubbling with ideas on how to creatively address set-related issues. The students have been able to look at ordinary objects and discover ways to use them in the sets for both finales, she said. Bellamy used a kitchen cart that been transformed into a candy cart as an example.

“Yesterday, this was just a kitchen cart and the boys were like ‘Let’s put a box over it and make it into a candy cart,’” Bellamy said.

Katie Johnson, 11, said she is enjoying preparations to play Willy Wonka in the finale. Johnson, of Jonesboro, has been participating in the camp for the last six years. She is taking 3-D and clay sculptures, as well as acting this year. Her goal is to someday become a professional actress.

But for now, she’s relishing the opportunity to play up the eccentricities of Wonka.

“I’m just trying to make it fun and trying to make Willy Wonka the best Willy Wonka can be,” said Johnson.

While Johnson is an old pro at the arts camps, others are getting their introductions to the experience.

First time campers Jettia Childs, 13, and Elise Fitten, 14, said they have enjoyed being in the Young Teen Camp. Both are taking guitar and set design.

“It’s fun and I like both of my classes, but I like guitar class a little bit more because I enjoy playing the guitar,” said Childs of Smyrna.

“It’s better than sitting at home doing nothing because we get to meet new friends, we get to pant and play instruments,” said Fitten of Stockbridge.