For close to 20 years, students and churchgoers of St. Joseph Church have had the opportunity to indulge in a summer art camp. 

Much freer than their usual school structured days, art teacher Penny Bassham told the Log Cabin Democrat on Thursday that the group of around 15 students have spent the week following the theme, “World of Imagination,” through decorating monster plates, creating soft toys with felt and sewing instruments, dabbling in abstract art with cardboard, building little creature houses out of clay pieces and toilet paper rolls and more. 

Bassham said the idea behind the creation of the art camp was because of its uniqueness at the time. She said years ago, most summer camps on campus were focused on athletics and they saw a need for that variety, their numbers growing larger until more art-based camps came along, breaking up those opportunities to give community members other options. 

In recent years, because of said growth, they have the option to work with smaller groups, maxing out around 15, bringing more of a “one-on-one” type of attention ability between teacher and student, Patricia McCauley, an art teacher in Maumelle who is helping with the camp, said. 

“I think it’s more ... you get more one-on-one, you get more detailed,” she said. 

Bassham recalled one of the first days this week when the group was working on their little creature houses. At first, the outcomes seemed quite plain. 

“Once they added the detail they really came alive,” she said. “They were much more imaginative, you could see they used their creativity.” 

McCauley said during the school year, days are made up of reuberics and schedules and state standards they have to follow, often leading to a more structured class time, but during these summer days, they get to slow down and kind of “ad-lib” ideas. 

“It allows us to work with them on their imagination,” she said. 

McCauley added there’s been multiple times this week already that she’s had the opportunity to really challenge the students, walking through ideas, encouraging them to come up with solutions and take their time, trial and error like. 

Bassham said it’s been fun to watch that develop this week, bring more of a play time and freedom to play to the summer schedule. 

“I think they’ve built a lot of confidence in what they’re doing this year,” she said, adding the it’s the little kid’s imagination that brings her back year after year. “Little kids seem uninhibited to explore and to use their imagination and think outside the box.”