Annual Arts Camp returns to McDonough this month

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Young people in Henry County will once again get a chance to flex their artistic muscles and hone their performance skills this summer.

L. to r.: Ellie Jagus, Lynna Schmidt, Emma Jagus, Erin Jagus, Katie Lawhorne at last year’s Arts Alliance Camp. Special photo

The Henry Arts Alliance will hold its 2015 Arts Camp June 15-19, at McDonough Presbyterian Church, 427 McGarity Road. The event will include: an Exploring the Arts Summer Camp and a Visual Arts Summer Camp for kids who have completed kindergarten through third grades; and a Performing Arts Summer Camp and a Visual Arts Summer Camp for those who have completed fourth through eighth grades.

Registration is $100 for the students in the younger groups, and $150 per student in the older groups.

“This week of camp is one of the most exciting, most creative things we do all year at the Henry Arts Alliance,” says the organization’s President, Lynna Schmidt. “I have been with this camp for 20 of its 21 years. I have seen it grow from a half-day camp with no performance, to an all-day camp with four different specialty camps, a performance and an art display. It’s truly a wonderful time for all over campers, teachers and volunteers.”

Nearly 2,500 participants have gone through the camp since it began 21 years ago, says Schmidt. She says many participants end up pursuing the arts in high school, in college or as a career.

“We’ve had students graduate with theater, music, dance or art degrees and work locally at area theaters including the Alliance Theatre, Academy Theatre, local TV and film and a number have gone on to work in New York City, LA and Chicago,” says Schmidt. “But, training young students for careers in the arts is not our goal. We want these children to have a really great week, discover new things, make new friends and go away with a love for the arts. These are our audiences of tomorrow.”

The Exploring the Arts Camp, now in its 21st year, will run from 9 a.m., until noon. Sign-ups are limited to 100 students.

Schmidt says participants in that camp will be able to learn about dance, drama, music, visual arts and literary arts.

“We feel it’s really important for these young students to get a chance to try everything,” she says. “The best part is, they may discover they have a love for one of these areas of the arts.”

The visual-arts camp for kindergarten through third grades will also be from 9 a.m., until noon, and is open to the first 15 students who sign up. The corresponding camp for older students is from 9 a.m., until 3 p.m., and registration is limited to 25 participants.

“Over the years we’ve had so many requests for all day Visual Arts Camps for our students that eight years ago, we added the all-day camp,” explains Schmidt.

Students in the day-long Visual Arts Camp will get the chance to experiment with different painting techniques, as well as drawing, photography and pottery. They will also assist with stage design for a musical to be performed by participants in the Performing Arts Summer Camp, which encompasses dance, drama and music.

The Performing Arts Summer Camp is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration is limited to 40 students. Students in that camp will learn their musical in five days, which they will perform June 19 at 7 p.m., at the Henry County Performing Arts Center, 37 Lemon St., in McDonough.

“I am amazed every year that these children learn their lines, songs and dances in one week,” says Schmidt.

Admission to the play is free and open to the public.

Schmidt credits instructors and coaches in the program with helping to provide a positive experience for campers.

“We have amazing teachers whom we call Masters involved in camp,” she says. “They are all creative professionals in their field. Our coaches are high-school and college students, many whom have been campers, working with the children. These young people bring a fabulous, fun energy to our camp. And the campers love their coaches.”

For more information on the Arts Camp, visit