COCA Camps Offer a Place and Space to Explore

We might already be on the downhill slope of summer, but around COCA our Summer Arts Camps will be in full swing through August 18.

Still considering signing your kids up for a COCA Camp this summer? We spoke with Vicki Boutwell, whose daughter Molly has participated in our Summer Arts Camps for the past few years, about her experience and how Molly has grown through the arts both at and outside of COCA.

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Talk a little about that first summer of camps for Molly.

During Molly’s first summer at COCA, she attended 100 Days of Summer (a Phineas and Ferb-themed camp) and A Spoonful of COCA. The counselors were very welcoming and always interested in the kids’ ideas, which made her feel appreciated and listened to; that her voice and ideas mattered.

While she liked performing on stage in the Spoonful camp, Molly much preferred writing her own script and making up her own stories and inventions in Phineas and Ferb camp. She did the Phineas and Ferb camp for a couple years, then discovered the Sorting Hat, a “Harry Potter” themed camp just as we were reading the series together. She was hooked—this is the fifth year that she’s attended one. (Molly and her friend made sure to include in the camp survey that there needed to be a Sorting Hat camp for older kids so that they could continue.)

How have you seen Molly’s interests in the arts grow and evolve throughout the years?

She’s learned that she loves creating her own art instead of performing someone else’s play or music. That’s one of the things she’s loved about the “Harry Potter” themed camps—that she’s creating the next story of Hogwarts. She likes creating visual arts too, whether it’s coloring, painting or creating collages.

I think Molly’s experience at COCA Camps has helped her develop her sense and style of creativity. At COCA, she’s given the space to explore and create with teachers and artists that encourage all the campers. She’s taught some of the improv games she learned at COCA to friends, so they play those games together. She’s not afraid to share her creative ideas at school because she’s been encouraged to do that every summer at COCA.

Any particularly memorable final performances of projects?

Last year, she and her friends wanted to include a time machine in their final performance. They spent two evenings after camp scouring our basement for supplies and building the machine from scratch. It was fun to watch her patience and problem-solving skills as she and her friends worked through what they wanted. And the reaction of their teachers and fellow campers when they rolled their time machine in was priceless. Molly was so proud of what she created—and all the campers and teachers were proud of her too.

What is your favorite part of her experience at COCA camps?

I love how excited and energized she is every day. She knows it’s going to be a fun experience at a COCA camp, even if she doesn’t have any friends in the camp with her. The Sorting Hat camp is always the camp that we schedule everything else around! And I know that the skills she’s learning at these camps—collaboration, public speaking, critical thinking, creativity—will benefit her throughout her life.

I’m thrilled at the self-confidence and creativity she takes away from COCA every summer. I’m proud of how hard she works in her camps—building sets, helping others learn their lines, writing scripts, working through scenes. COCA camps have been a nurturing place for her to grow and find her creative voice.


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