Summer art camp creating opportunities for local youth

·4 min read

The Evergreen Arts Camp is an exciting new collaboration this year that was developed with the idea of introducing youth to multiple forms of art.

The camp took place over five days from August 9 to 13 at the Grand Coteau Heritage & Cultural Centre.

Ty Hunter, camp leader and visionary, explained why these types of camp experiences can be valuable to young people.

“What we're trying to do is facilitate and create an experience that is educational, but also provides an opportunity for expression," said Hunter. "

"I believe strongly in the importance of the arts, and I really think it's important for the culture in Shaunavon,” he added.

Along with Hunter, camp sessions also featured the involvement of a multitude of talented local artists and leaders that included Andrew Robertson, Chris Attrell, Larry Hughes, Tammy Willman, Norma Hunter and Carmen Michelson.

The art forms at the camp included woodworking, sculpting, painting, drawing, photography, videography, drama, choir, singing and songwriting.

Kids spent the first three days of the camp learning a variety of different art forms. Day four was dedicated to specialty classes designed to provide more learning opportunities to those specific art forms that each young participant gravitated towards.

“We wanted to create an experience that offered something that could be fun, and more like a hobby," explained Hunter. "But something else that has really been in my heart for a long time has been the idea of providing kids with resources and opportunities that could help them if they want to choose art as a career.”

“I think sometimes that can be difficult if you don't have opportunities to grow in the craft from a young age," he added. "So, I guess the camp experience is really meant to facilitate a range of goals for the kids. If they just want to enjoy the freedom of expression and the chance to create just for fun, that's awesome. If they want to actually develop skills that they can direct towards a specific kind of career option one day, then that's awesome, too."

To add emphasis to the idea of arts being a career path, organizers arranged a special event on Friday that showcased all of the kids art work at the Plaza Theatre. The young artists had a choice between selling their art through an upcoming online auction or taking it home.

Hunter, a member of the well-known Canadian country music group The Hunter Brothers, first came up with the idea of hosting a youth art camp many years ago. But it was working through a relatively mundane task earlier this year that ultimately spurred him on to take action in 2021.

“Art camp is something I've dreamed about for many years," he offered with a smile. "But I was cleaning out my back shop through COVID season, and I found a paper that I had made up years and years ago regarding the dream for art camp. I just decided then, considering the circumstances we were under this year and not really knowing what was going to happen with live shows and everything else, that this might be a really good opportunity to start that up.”

At about the same time as all this was happening, Ty was approached by Tammy Willman, program co-ordinator at the GCHCC, about partnering on the Centre's annual summer Art Camp. The timing of it all had everyone thinking "it was meant to be."

Ty was grateful for the GCHCC involvement; the support of Wendy Thienes and the Director of Culture Joanne Gregoire; along with everyone else who helped with the endeavour.

“I really have to pass along a huge thank you to everyone who supported the camp," said Ty.

Hunter went on to encourage anyone in the area with some creative ideas to get involved in the program.

"If anybody wants to get involved in any capacity, by all means, contact me and I'd love to touch base," he said. "If you have an interest in the arts and developing them in the community that would be terrific."

"I'm really excited for the future and bringing together all these creative minds that I really think can help create some really cool landscapes for the future,” he added.

The week-long camp attracted about 40 young participants.

Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard

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