Campfire’s Calling: Traditional or high-tech, camps offer summer sun, something fun for everyone…
By Lois Legge, Features’ Writer, Halifax Herald, June 2008
Play in the sand. Sail boats. Build robots. Nova Scotia summer camps are getting ready for everything from sunshine to science to Shakespeare. Moviemaking, too. And show tunes and video game design and lots of other activities designed to keep kids blissfully busy. And as the days of rays draw nearer, parents are already signing their children up for days, nights, even weeks away from home.
Ben Conrad, 11, spent some of last summer at one of Artech Studios’ day camps, starring in a group-made pirate movie, making Claymation films, and designing video games, something he hopes to do for a living when he grows up.
And he can’t wait to go back to the Bridgewater-based camp again this summer. “It was really cool,” Ben says of the technology-oriented, kid-friendly business, which is also offering its day camps in Halifax Regional Municipality for the first time this summer. “It’s really creative. You get to make movies and video games. You get to make . . . clay movies. . . . You can use your creativity on all kinds of things,”says the Grade 5 Bridgewater Elementary School student.
Ben’s mom Sharon says her only child gets plenty of physical exercise playing summer sports like soccer and tennis. But the week-long day camps at Artech help stimulate his mind, while easing hers when she’s working. “He loves it,” she says. “He really looks forward to the days that he goes to Artech. . . . It’s very creative.” So much so, some of the participants – Ben included – have had their film creations shown on CBC television.
Ben’s face now even graces a pirate-themed poster for the business, owned by Ronnie Scullion of Bridgewater. Scullion says the camps, running for three weeks in July and three weeks in August at Dartmouth Sportsplex also offer youngsters an entry into robotics and animation. “Kids have a lot of access to technology at their home, or at their school, but they don’t know all the different things they can do with it, so it’s a lot of exposure to new creative possibilities,” says Scullion, who has a fine arts degree from NSCAD University and has been involved in information technology.
“I get a lot of parents who say: ‘Oh, my son or daughter is not into sports. There’s never anything to sign them up for. They don’t want to join this group, or that group, but they do want to build robots. It captures a lot of kids who aren’t involved in other activities and at the same time it captures kids who are involved in lots of different things like Ben, and this is one more thing they want to try out.”