5 camps for creative kids

The best camps to foster imagination this summer

If you've got a budding creative on your hands, the Hudson Valley is full of camps for kids looking to flex their imagination muscles. We've rounded up some great options to explore.

Hudson Valley Writing Project
SUNY New Paltz
800 Hawk Dr., Old Main 323, New Paltz

For the next great American novelist, consider the Hudson Valley Writing Project's (HVWP) programs. HVWP has programs for all different age groups and writing preferences (including activism writing, playwriting, comedy and graphic novel writing and more). Sessions led by master teacher-writers take place at various museums and historical sites throughout the Hudson Valley. "This is so young writers can explore art, artifacts, and natural landscapes and make personal connections that inspire their creativity," says Diane Rawson, coordinating director of young writers' programs. That's a big plus for Alyssa Tarantino, a 14-year-old from Newburgh who has attended HVWP programs for the past four years.

"Her favorite thing about the Writing Project is the diversity of its locations," says her father Matt Tarantino. "I also like seeing her engage in the community and learning while doing so."

Tarantino says that his daughter's writing has improved greatly since she started attending the camp. A session at Huguenot Street even helped her discover a love of poetry and make her publishing debut.

"There is a place for every kind of writer, from the reluctant to the most passionate, in our programs," Rawson says. "Children and teens are given the freedom to choose what they write about and explore topics that interest them. They build confidence by writing in a variety of genres, gain new skills and develop their voices as writers."

Art Buzz Kids
Wine and Design
133 Rte. 94 South, Warwick

Do you have a budding Picasso on your hands? Nurture their imagination and artistic ability and enroll them in painting classes at Art Buzz Kids.
The studio in Warwick has classes for children of all ages that are led by teams of friendly, patient professionals.

Painting classes at an Art Buzz Kids studio are great ways to develop confidence and give your children a creative outlet (that isn't all over your walls and kitchen floor!).

Renaissance Kids
1343 Rte. 44, Pleasant Valley

For creative kids who like variety, head to Renaissance Kids. This
creative camp for kids ages 5 to 16 years old changes theme each week and from summer to summer, so campers can attend multiple sessions and come back every year without repeating activities. Themes include puppet theater, musical theater, arts and crafts, piano/guitar and art, claymation movie-making, and drumming.

"Our camp is unique because we research and design our programs ourselves to integrate learning valuable skills and at the same time have lots of fun," says Carol Padron, president of Renaissance Kids. She says the camp has a "homey, backyard feel" and that groups are small so kids don't get overwhelmed.

"I personally love how Mrs. Padron and all the teachers at Renaissance Kids let kids be creative," says Gabriela Morgan, a Poughkeepsie parent whose two children have attended Renaissance Kids for years. "They always foster the kids' own ideas and let the kids steer the course of the class," she says. Last summer, her kids attended music video production week, where they got to choose music, perform, and edit a music video, complete with a take-home DVD of the finished product.

Mad Science of the Mid-Hudson
300 Reservoir Rd., Goshen
Young scientists will love to learn and create at a Mad Science camp this summer. Creativity, imagination and hands-on learning opportunities mix to create the perfect summer experience for your children.

Your kids will discover cool chemical reactions, build rockets and design and build their very own working robot.

Your kids will learn so much while their creativity is supported. There are different, interactive camps for kids of all ages.  

Project Funway
Beacon Art Studios
1234 Rte. 9, Wappingers Falls

For budding fashion designers, head to Beacon Art Studios' "Project Funway." Fashionistas turn old fabric and materials into brand-new outfits and accessories while they learn how to sketch and sew their own clothes. Each morning, campers work on small group projects to learn about a different aspect of design, and then work on individual projects using a sewing machine and mannequin that the camp provides.

"Founder and Creative Director Eva's approach is to allow the children to create. A straight seam is much less important than imagination," says Lenny Intoni of Beacon Art Studios. He says the camp teaches kids how to budget for their creations by giving each camper "fashion money" that they can use to buy used clothing and new fabric at the camp store.

"Each day, two children are in charge of the store and take turns throughout the week tidying up and working with their 'customers,'" Intoni says. Each week-long session culminates in a fashion show.

Elora Tocci is a local freelance writer.