Creative camp at Sense of Wonder

Summer program brings on creativity and culture.

0
Campers will learn to work together this summer at Sense of Wonder in Vineyard Haven. —Courtesy Sense of Wonder Creations

The mission of Sense of Wonder Creations (SOWC) is to educate young people, through creative arts, on how they can make a difference in the world. Using their unique talents and skills, students are encouraged to embrace diverse cultures, eradicate racism, stand up for human rights, care for the environment and animals, and do local and global community service. SOWC offers summer camp programs for kids 7 to 12.

“This is our 34th year this summer. I ask myself, how is that possible?” SOWC director and instructor Pam Benjamin laughed. Benjamin’s desire to start SOWC was based on a number of factors: “My family were very giving, which ignited my passion and empathy early on. It all came together with all things that I love — young people, the arts, and helping the world be a better place. I hope that I can inspire kids to find their talents and skills, so they can do what they love.”

Summer camp programs at SOWC are highly creative and philanthropic. “We’ve had art shows where all the money goes to an orphanage in a foreign country, and for an endangered species,” Benjamin shared. “Every summer we build a large endangered creature out of papier-mâché and raise money. We have weekly circles at lunchtime, and the kids get to tell us what their causes are. We try to encourage them to work on that cause, and find ways to help.”

SOWC is active in global outreach work, as well. “We started a music and art school in Haiti, and helped rebuild after Hurricane Matthew. We’ve also given funds every year for backpacks and school fees, as well as educational supplies, and money to start a six-acre community garden,” Benjamin said.

Summer camp at SOWC runs from July 8 to August 9. Each week offers new creative opportunities for kids to explore. On July 8, Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers will be visiting. The group includes three siblings — brothers Erik and Brian Torbeck and sister Robin (Torbeck) Erlandsen. The puppeteers write and create all the shows they perform.

On July 15, dancer and choreographer Omari Contaste, from the Forces of Nature Dance Troupe, will be back. Contaste will demonstrate some fun Caribbean and other dance movements. Members from the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah will also be present to talk about their culture, crafts, and folklore. A paleontologist will come to show kids a collection of dinosaur bones, rare artifacts, and extraordinary fossils. The campers get to write a play related to the weekly theme.

“The week of July 22, we have a very special guest coming,” Benjamin said. “Sy Montgomery, who is the author of ‘Soul of an Octopus’ and ‘Of Time and Turtles.’ Her illustrator is also coming, and they’ll be talking about animals and the environment,” Benjamin said.

On July 29, maskmaker, portrait artist, actor, and writer Eric Bornstein, as well as Steve Lohman and Penelope MacLean of Stop Motion Animation, will visit. Bornstein’s masked characters have appeared in a variety of venues, and have been shown in many museums. Lohman is a talented artist and sculptor, and his commissions include work created for the public, private, and corporate sectors. MacLean is married to Steve, and is a five-star chef, artist, and sculptor. The MacLeans will work on the papier-mâché turtle, and also work with the campers and create magic with their Stop Motion Animation videos.

On August 5, singer Teresa Thomason will be back by popular demand. Thomason has traveled and performed with her band around the world in many venues and in collaboration with many musicians. Theresa’s sister, teacher — artist, singer and musician Brenda Cline — will also be in attendance. Godfrey Muwulya will be a guest that week as well. Muwulya was featured in the New York Times, has visited Martha’s Vineyard through the Yard, and has taught in numerous K-12 schools in NYC, Massachusetts, and on the Island. The campers will get to do art projects including painting and ceramics from diverse cultures.

On Friday, August 9, at noon, there will be an amazing art show, brilliant performances, eloquent speakers, and an end-of-summer party. This writer is jealous, and wishes she were a kid so she could attend SOWC’s summer camp!

To learn more about Sense of Wonder Creations Summer Camps, visit senseofwondercreations.org/summer-camp, email psb@senseofwondercreations.org, or call 508-693-3142.