Ready for summer, ready for camps at the DAC!

The familiar shifts in weather and river flows, and the evacuation of Fort Lewis College students from town, tell us summer must be around the corner. My own youthful memories of summertime in Durango were punctuated by all-day (and all-night) bike rides with friends, trolley trips to Trimble Hot Springs and, when I finally received a coveted driver’s’ license, long drives up to the mountains. Pure bliss!

Summer is a magical season in Durango, full of endless opportunities for adventure, but for parents, it can also be stressful when deciding on a suitable daytime activity for their children to enroll. Fortunately, our community is chock-full of nonprofit and city-run programs that make a point of ramping up in June through August to serve area families through enriching experiences, and the Durango Arts Center is no different.

For years, DAC has provided a safe, fun and engaging environment for children and youths to discover a world of inspiration and creativity in visual and performing arts summer camps. An arts camp encourages the use of imagination and self-expression, while developing critical-thinking skills through artmaking, song, dance and drama. DAC’s visual art camps (ages 6-12) offer weeklong sessions focused on fun themes and different mediums: Printmaking, clay, painting, drawing, sculpture and mixed media. Preschoolers (ages 3-5) experiment with a variety of colors, textures and ideas to become mini-masters. Specialized programs for the adolescent age set are offered in the highly popular Girls’ Opportunities through Arts & Leadership and BoysART, with local artists and creatives serving as mentors and teachers. Both GOAL and BART are enrolled through nominations of parents, teachers and peers.

In the theater, our four-week performing art camps (ages 7-15) offer specialized training in musical theater and acting, culminating in fully-costumed productions in the DAC theater open to the public to enjoy. Younger performers (ages 4-6) delve into creative movement, storytelling, speech and character development through specialized two- and four-week camps.

All DAC camps are led by experienced, passionate teaching artists and real-life performers, and each student receives a coveted camp T-shirt to wear the rest of the summer. In total, DAC will welcome about 275 students to camps and, thanks to generous community members and our corporate partners, we are able to provide need-based scholarships to approximately 10 percent of enrollment.

DAC is but one of the sites that offer dynamic summer camp options, and parents, you’re in luck. From noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, families have an opportunity to spend a day checking out numerous summer and year-round enrichment programs in the arts, music, nature and more at Party in the Park, an annual summer kick-off celebration in Buckley Park organized by Stillwater Music. Come out and enjoy live music all day by regional youth performers, including bands from Stillwater Music, DAC’s own Applause! musical theater students and classical string ensembles from the Be FRANK Foundation. The park will be lined with booths sharing regional organizations’ summer youth program offerings, along with local food and all-important snow cones.

Stop by the DAC booth to learn more about art and performance camps. We’ll be excited to see you!

Cristie Scott is the executive director of the Durango Arts Center.