Nova Scotia

Home is where the art is: N.S. camp moves online

Alderney Landing in Dartmouth usually hosts in-person art camps in the summer, but an organizer says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them to think outside the box.

Art classes will be taught virtually instead of in-person, organizer says

Art classes will be taught through a series of videos hosted by Halifax artist Genny Killin. (Alderney Landing)

A Halifax-area art camp is moving online this year, joining a growing list of activities going virtual in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alderney Landing in Dartmouth usually hosts in-person art and theatre day camps in the summer, but the pandemic has forced organizers to think outside the box this year.

"Most of our programming and events involve community engagement, and they involve people gathering, people watching theatre, people coming to the art gallery and engaging in art making," said Lee Cripps, the Craig Gallery curator and fine arts program director at Alderney Landing.

"We tried to do some creative problem solving and think, 'How can we still give them that programming and still teach kids how to make art?'"

Alderney Landing is launching week-long virtual art camps starting in June. The program will provide instructional videos for students to follow at home, led by local artist Genny Killin.

The kids will also get three online meetings with the instructor throughout the week. The camp is providing no-contact pickup for the supplies they'll need, or students can get the supplies themselves. 

Alderney Landing usually hosts in-person art and theatre camps over the summer. (Google Street View)

Projects will include sculpting, print-making and puppet building. Cripps said they wanted to focus on projects that children can do at home with minimal supervision — both to keep kids occupied and to give parents a break.

"What we wanted to do is not only give kids a chance to experience art-making and create projects themselves, but alleviate the part of the parents," said Cripps.

"I'm currently a single parent working from home and trying to juggle my work-work and my parenting work and give my daughter the help she needs with her online schoolwork. It's really challenging most days."

Each project is expected to take one to two hours in the morning to complete. Participants will be able to get feedback on their work and ask questions during online meetings with the instructor in the afternoon.

New opportunities

Cripps said while COVID-19 is presenting its fair share of challenges, it's also created some opportunities for the camp. 

For one thing, there's no cap on the number of participants. "We do have spatial constrictions when people are gathered together, so this kind of opens up a lot of doors that way," said Cripps.

The camp's online format also means students don't have to live in the Halifax region to take part.

"What's exciting about it is anybody from the community, the city, the province, Canada, the world — anybody can participate in this," said Cripps, though she noted people who live further away would have to find the materials themselves.

The first camp starts June 1 and Alderney Landing is now accepting registration for camps starting June 8, 15 and 22. If the spring virtual camp is successful, Alderney Landing will host more in the summer, Cripps said.

The pandemic is forcing many group activities online, including at least one other camp. 

Camp Kidston in Middle Musquodoboit, N.S., recently announced on its website that it would not be offering its traditional overnight camp this year, but would instead offer activities online for its campers through its new program, Kidston CONNECTS.

Meanwhile, the Discovery Centre in Halifax, which has been closed since March, is offering online science workshops and experiments through its BiteSize Science and Discovery@Home programs. Spokesperson Jennifer Punch said in an email that the science centre is "very close to a decision" about its summer camps this year.

About the Author

Alex Cooke

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Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Send her story ideas at alex.cooke@cbc.ca.

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