Summer Art Camps for kids!- Arts Council

May 2, 2019 Carlos Arreola

Watch out, parents, summer vacation will be here before you know it! If you’re looking for some creative enrichment programs for your school-age kids this summer, the Doña Ana Arts Council (DAAC) has some great choices, including Career Art Path, Opera Storytellers Camp, and the Missoula Children’s Theatre.

Career Art Path, June 17 – 28, is a visual arts camp for 5th to 8th graders. During this two-week experience, participants will explore a wide range of art-related careers through hands-on activities, speakers, and field trips. The camp is from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day and will be held at Centennial High school, 1950 Sonoma Ranch Blvd. Tuition is $100 per student for the two-week camp.

Lisa Carlson, an art teacher on the cusp of retiring from Las Cruces Public Schools is DAAC’s new Program Manager handling children’s programs and the wide range of adult programs that take place in the Arts & Cultural Center. Carlson says, “Middle school is a great age to target the different art career opportunities. We’ve had such a diverse group of guest artists. We try to get at least eight different artists over the two weeks. For example, we’re lining up architects, landscape designers, tattoo artists, fashion designers, theatre experts, and somebody from the Creative Media Institute. We’re trying to expose these kids to the wide variety of art careers they can enter. We have a guest speaker in the morning and then we spend the rest of the day working on a project designed to go with the art career they heard about that morning.”

Opera Storytellers Camp, in collaboration with the Santa Fe Opera, is directed by Christa Fredrickson of Centennial High School and Jim Billings of New Mexico State University’s Department of Theater. The camp, which takes place June 3 – 14, is open to students in 3rd through 12th grades. Using elements of opera, participants will compose and perform their own 30-minute musical drama based on the hero’s journey. Campers will also learn the technical aspects of lighting and sound, as well as set and costume design. No experience is required for this camp which will be held at Centennial High School, 1950 Sonoma Ranch Blvd.

Billings, who has been an associate professor of scenic and lighting design since 1985 and has helped lead the camp for three previous years, says, “In addition to learning the elements of opera and writing a story, our campers learn the importance of what design can do to support the story telling. Students will develop a vocabulary of design terms and learn a little about how scenery, costumes, props, and lighting are created and what they contribute to the show.”

He adds, “We use drawing and crafting projects to develop characters and costumes, and this year we will be doing some lighting experiments to show how light can impact story telling. It’s a great opportunity to learn the elements of storytelling in so many ways: through writing, music, singing, character development, costumes, scenery, and lighting. But most of all, it’s fun and students learn how working together and collaborating creates something amazing.” Tuition for Opera Storytellers Camp is $300 for the two-week camp with scholarship available and a discount for children in the same immediate family.

Returning for the 28th year is the Missoula Children’s Theatre, a one-week theater camp for young actors entering grades one through 12. This camp takes place at Las Cruces High School, 1755 El Paseo Road, from July 8 – 13, from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. This year they will perform “Gulliver’s Travels.” Tuition is $60 per student; with a discount for children in the same immediate family. Students may pre-enroll before July 8 to ensure they are one of the actors cast in the play, then audition for their roles Monday, July 8, at 10 a.m.

Carlson explains, “The Missoula Children’s Theatre is exciting because it is two working actors who come with this entire troop of props and costumes. They do team building and face painting exercises and writing exercises. In just one week, they go from 40 kids to an ensemble that will do two performances of ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’”

The performances are July 13 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Las Cruces High School. Tickets for the performance are $7 for adults and $3 for children twelve and under, and are available at the door.

Applications are online at Be sure to enroll your child in advance to ensure participation in these enriching summer programs. If needed, partial scholarships are available for all programs. For more information, check the DAAC website or call (575) 523-6403.

The Dona Ana Arts & Cultural Center and DAAC administrative office are located at 1740 Calle de Mercado in Mesilla, New Mexico.   For more information, go to or call the DAAC office at (575) 523-6403.

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