Dinosaurs and sharks mingled nicely with live ducks and a baby goat at Saturday’s Sense of Wonder creations art show in Vineyard Haven. The dinosaur and shark were a couple of papier mache creations completed by young campers who attend the after-school program at Sense of Wonder. The ducks seemed right at home in a tub of water in the backyard. Music, face painting and a bean bag toss shared the space.
Besides the live animals, there were many others of the painted and sculpted variety. Proceeds from the art show benefitted the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Organization in Rwanda, and there were jars on all the tables to collect donations. Parents strolled around the art show and could complete their own art project with their children at one of the many project areas set up to breed creativity. If they felt like taking a break, they could sit awhile and listen to music by Brian Weiland and Rick and Hudson Bausman.
Some high school students who work with the younger children were there to help with the art show. Aaron Teves is a sophomore and he has been coming to Sense of Wonder since he was in middle school. Now he comes to help with the younger children.
“We’re here to help them if they need it,” Aaron said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch them have fun.”
Aaron said he’s always been interested in art, especially in relation to architecture, which he’s planning to study in college. His friend Michaela Piche is a freshman and she decided to get involved at Sense of Wonder after a couple of friends encouraged her. “The kids have a blast here,” Michaela said. “I’m into photography but I’ve always loved art and it’s so much fun to watch the kids do it.”
Founded in the summer of 1991 by Pam Benjamin, the nonprofit camp blends creative arts with helping to educate young people to appreciate ethnic diversity, care for the environment and participate in local and global community service. The art show met all the criteria and then some, if you count fun and enthusiasm as goals.
The camp gives young people a loving place to use and develop their creative abilities. It began with 15 children, Mrs. Benjamin, an assistant and a counselor in training. This year there were more than 60 students ages five to 14 in the fall, winter and spring program at Sense of Wonder. There are more than a dozen high school students in the leader in training program, and five adult counselors who help. This summer will offer a different theme each week, including organic farming, ocean creatures, puppets, African arts, things that fly. And there is always drawing, music, working with clay, painting and other modes of artistic expression. A Sense of Wonder day camp experience is no ordinary hike in the woods, unless campers stop to ponder drawing the legs of a cicada while they hike.
Mrs. Benjamin wrote in an email that art, music and other artistic expressions are “wonderful, creative outlets that contribute enormously to a child’s self esteem.”
She also feels that the arts help young people understand how they relate to their environment and other cultures.
“I believe that one of the most important things is if a child continues to love and be excited about exploring, discovering and being creative, he does not get intimidated as he becomes older,” Mrs. Benjamin said.
A favorite quote of hers sums up the camp’s purpose: “Picasso said that he learned everything he needed to know by the age of 14 and spent the rest of his life unlearning.”
To find out more about the camp visit senseofwondercreations.org, or call 508-693-3142.