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ARTS CAMPS: Finding the Right Balance for Your Child

Should Your Child go to Arts Camp?

As I sit on the brink of sending my oldest off to sleep-away camp for the first time, watching videos, calling former campers, reading brochures, I realize that I must honestly answer the question of what makes him (not me!) happy. I greet the process with a fair amount of trepidation. After all, I was the camper who wrote impassioned letters to my parents about my abject misery in the woods of Maine and when they arrived to pick me up, I announced that I had decided that I wanted to stay! Nevertheless, I know that there are some experiences which my child will never have at the age of 10 if he stays at home.

He might go to tennis camp and really perfect his game. He could go to computer camp and learn to type at the same time. He would benefit from a summer of team sports in Maine. So why are we looking at arts camps? The artistic needs which camp can fulfill vary greatly from child to child and camp to camp. Perhaps the first question to be asked is,

Am I looking for a pre-professional training program, a program where, for instance, my child will focus specifically on music, or am I looking for a camp experience which focuses on the arts more generally?

A camp, such as the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, would be an example of the former. Programs exist in music, art, and dance. One can take an art course on the side of one’s music program but, fundamentally, if you are there for music, music is very much your major. In your group there would be music students who will be in the major symphonies in the coming years (in fact, there are graduates in every major symphony orchestra in America); there would be others who will not become professional musicians, but their interest and devotion is serious. Campers live in cabins, and they have a full sports program, but the primary benefits of such an experience are:

  • Personalized instruction

  • An ability to perform, or exhibit in the case of art, a tremendous amount

  • To play with greater talent and with more people in one’s age group than otherwise would ever be possible.