Rather than watching movies or playing video games over the summer, campers at BIG ARTS are exposed to multiple forms of art they might not even encounter during the school year.
They get daily lessons in painting, dance, puppetry, acting, music appreciation, and folk art. The program is divided according to age, split between K-5 and middle/high school, and every Friday afternoon parents and friends are invited to see a display of their artwork at BIG ARTS.
On July 12 the children produced their own musical called "The Beach Party," written by campers, and featuring the songs "Under the Boardwalk" and "It's My 'Beach' Party."
Campers sang “Under the Boardwalk” during a life performance of a musical written by BIG ARTS summer campers. Mckenzie Cassidy.
Aria Nero-Seder came to watch her daughter, Alexa, perform in the show. Alexa played a lifeguard who sang with the ensemble.
"I'm going to take care of the little kids in the show," said Alexa, who just turned 7, but was allowed to work with the older group.
Alexa said her favorite part of camp was the theater and music. Her mother said it was Alexa's first time at BIG ARTS after trying other summer sports and activities.
"We decided to give BIG ARTS a try and she had an awesome week," said Nero-Seder. "It's what a parent looks for when they want a camp."
John Buscher's daughter, Noreen, played a character on the beach who got angry when someone stomped on her sand castle. He said the camp was a great opportunity for his daughter to express her creativity and he wanted to sign her up for next summer.
Tom McBain and his wife Gillian travel from Scotland every year to spend their summers on Sanibel. Their daughters Edie and Ella have gone to the BIG ARTS summer camp for the last four years.
"There are a few kids they see every year so it's like a school experience," said Tom McBain. "I can't get her to the door quick enough."
The McBain family forged close relationships with camp instructors and even went fishing with one of them.
"The kids are in with great teachers and you know they are getting taken care of," said Gillian McBain.
Camp director Jenn Williams said BIG ARTS is one of the only "true art camps" in Southwest Florida.
"Our enrollment has been down but you can't tell with the kids. They are still doing great works of art and learning great things," said Williams.
BIG Arts summer camp runs weekly Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., until June 26. Tuition assistance is available; contact BIG ARTS for an application. For more information, call 395-0900, visit www.BIGARTS.org or stop by at 900 Dunlop Road.