Thirty-three students representing 32 high schools across Arkansas spent a week at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute atop Petit Jean Mountain for Envision U 2009, the Rockefeller Institute’s third annual summer arts camp. 

Hart Denton of Conway High School-East was among those attending.

"Envision U: A Creative Camp Experience" is a free, residential, interdisciplinary arts camp developed as part of the Rockefeller Institute’s overall mission to give all Arkansans more chances to experience and celebrate the value of art. The goal of this summer arts camp is for each student to experience and reflect on five common art disciplines: visual art, literary art, music, dance and theater.

"At Envision U, we aim to provide select Arkansas high school students with a chance to experience an intense, creative environment where personal talents can be discovered and developed each summer," said Julie Hall, program coordinator at the Rockefeller Institute. "Envision U is particularly focused on providing this type of creative experience to students who have demonstrated some artistic talents but have not had many opportunities to explore or develop them."

The students who attended the camp participated in hands-on classes taught by professional artists from across the country. Students selected three courses to take during the week — one at the intensive level and the other two at the exploratory level.

Students were in their intensive level classes for a significant amount of time during the week. This course level enabled them to have a better understanding of the particular medium and also to have an increased ability to communicate both emotionally and technically through it.

Exploratory level classes were much shorter classes designed just to introduce students to new and different art media and give them a chance to experiment with creating in a variety of art forms.

The courses offered at Envision U 2009 included screenplay writing, surreal drawing techniques, puppetry arts, screen-printing and performing in a drum ballet. 

Students also participated in a required course called Life Pieces and a variety of other activities designed to expose them to different aspects of creativity, to help them examine the relationship of art and creativity to real life, and to apply their creativity to different parts of their lives.

As part of Life Pieces, students completed an art-based community service project called "Create-It-Forward." The purpose of the project was for the students to realize how they could use their artistic talents to give back to the community. Each of the three Life Pieces teams selected a community organization in Arkansas where they thought a piece of public art could make a difference. 

The teams created works of art for the following three organizations: Youth Home Inc. in Little Rock received a piece titled "The Language of Hope," Women’s Crisis Center of South Arkansas was given a piece called "The Dream," and The Caring Place in Hot Springs received a work called, "It’s Never too Late to Create."  The students presented their "Create-It-Forward" community service projects to representatives from the three organizations at the end of the week.

Between creative activities, students had access to fishing, horseshoes, indoor basketball and tennis courts, paddle boats, volleyball, biking, board games, hiking at Petit Jean State Park, and other forms of recreation.

On the final day of Envision U 2009, students displayed their artistic talents at a culminating performance. Each intensive level class presented what they learned during the week through puppetry, musical performances, works of art and narratives. Many of the campers’ friends, family members, teachers and school counselors were in attendance.