Summer camp makes learning fun

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Random Acts of Theater is helping young people in Selma explore their interest in art all month with a summer art camp. Above, Shay Hurt, fifth grade, glues a picture onto her collage. The camp is geared toward exposing children to all types of arts. -- Alison McFerrin

By Alison McFerrin

The Selma Times-Journal

When school lets out, summer camps are in. One camp in Selma is the Random Acts of Theatre Summer Art Camp, which began Monday.

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“The idea really was to have a camp for kids to learn about all different types of art,” art camp director Jarah Botello said. Jarah initiated the camp, which is now in its third year.

The camp, which is being held at Selma Community Church, has two portions. The morning camp is geared toward first through sixth graders and features painting, music and photography among other forms of art. The afternoon camp is open to any age group and is focused on creating a musical.

“It gives them a chance to express themselves — a way to get a lot of energy that they have inside of them pointed in a positive direction,” Jarah said.

Robert Botello works with the camp in a variety of capacities, and he said it’s great to see the kids just get to enjoy being kids.

“I think one of the things they really love is just being themselves — being an artist,” Robert said. “A lot of kids grow up so fast nowadays …that childhood, that innocence, is lost so young.”

Jarah said the morning art camp has about 20 participants. One of those campers is Hayden Hubbard.

“I think it’s really great,” Hubbard said. “You get to do lots of art, instead of just sitting in the house with nothing to do.”

Amanda Farnsworth is the director of Random Acts of Theatre as well as the director of the afternoon portion, which she calls ‘the performance branch.’

“It’s something for them to do on a summer afternoon,” Farnsworth said. “They get to choreograph a lot of the dances and they get to help put together the songs and skits and acting.”

This year’s musical will be Footloose: The Remix, which Farnsworth said will include songs from Footloose as well as other songs the kids love from the 80s.

“A lot of kids have come into Random Acts of Theatre with the show, never thinking they would ever sing in front of people or never dance in front of people or something, but they end up, at the end of the show, teaching another kid how fun it is,” Farnsworth said. “So it’s kind of like they get to pay it forward.”

Even when camp is over, Farnsworth and the Botellos hope the kids can take something with them.

“I really hope that they gain confidence in who they are,” Jarah said.

Farnsworth said she has seen that confidence boost firsthand after previous theatre productions.

“They gain a lot of confidence — in themselves, in being themselves, in their ability to sing, to dance, and also in their ability to improvise,” Farnsworth said. And she said being in a production leaves another lasting impact on campers. “A lot of the kids, if you talk to them, they talk about it like it’s family.”

The camp also features field trips — one per week — to the Selma YMCA, the Birmingham Children’s Theatre, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Paul M. Grist State Park.

“Some of these kids don’t ever get to do stuff like that,” Jarah said.

The musical will hit the stage August 12-13. General admission tickets will be $10.

“We hope the community comes out to see it,” Farnsworth said. “It’s really fun to see the kids get a chance to really express themselves.”

Random Acts of Theatre Company is a program of the Freedom Foundation. Camp slots are still available. Camp fee is $60 for one week or $250 for all four weeks, and the fee covers camp T-shirt, lunch, and all necessary supplies.

For more information about Footloose: The Remix or about Art Camp, call 505-0086.