Ever since she was a little child, Shirlee Ann Williams enjoyed learning about art in the summer from peers and older mentors.
“It’s been a lot of fun for all the years that I’ve came,” Williams said with a smile.
Thursday was the teenagers last day attending ARTSCAMP, a four-day summer enrichment program held at Sampson Community College (SCC) for kindergarten through eighth-graders. Hosted by the Sampson County Schools ARTS Advisory Council, Inc., the program gives students the opportunities to receive instruction from local arts teachers and artists. Some of the lessons included visual arts, creative dramatics, movements and music.
“I’m going to miss the arts and drama classes,” Williams said. “Dancing and music was a lot fun.”
In the fall, the 13-year-old will attend Hobbton High School and will be too old to attend next summer. But she plans to return as a Momma Duck, a helper for the camp.
Like Williams, Madeline Worley also attended the camp before her high school years. The University of North Carolina Wilmington senior, currently serves the program as a Momma Duck. While growing up, the Sampson County native was involved with art, music and dance.
“I really like how all the students from Sampson County and Clinton City Schools come together and get to see different forms of art,” Worley said. “It’s really neat that they get to interact with all of the students from Sampson County.”
Nancy Heath, a coordinator for the program stressed how it’s important for the program to continue for students across the county. During the program, all of the students receive instruction from qualified teachers in the area.
“I think it helps children to become more focused, allows them to be creative and it teaches them to problem solve,” Heath said. “It’s all the things that employers want to see in an adult.”
Heath added that SCC was gracious in letting the school use their campus.
“They love to see the children come and they give us anything we need,” Heath said.
Along with SCC, the council also receives support from Hog Slat Inc., Southern Bank, Star Telephone, Nissan of Clinton and Walmart.
The camp began in 1989 to give local students the opportunity to explore different types of art. During that time period, Heath mentioned how there was not a lot of art teachers in the county.
“We wanted to make sure all of the county kids were exposed,” she said.
Years later, the program opened up to all schools in the county. Each year, the council accepts the first 100 applicants who apply. This year, the county received 93 children.
“We would never turn down a child,” Heath said.
During the week, the students rotate to different stations to practice art, theater, dance and music. On Thursday, the students made presentations.
As students made their way to another session, she congratulated the smiling children as they showed her their art projects. Heath hopes to see those happy faces for years to come.
“We hope to continue it for future generations,” Williams said.