Hands-on learning: Campers schooled about art in nature

Uncle Carl’s Camp Coordinator Aaron Tschetter, left, talks to campers Maddie Miller and Clara Miller as they make salamanders out of Sculpey clay at Kauffman Museum in North Newton. Wendy Nugent/Newton Now

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

NORTH NEWTON—Roll. Roll. Roll. Kids attending the Art in Nature camp Thursday at Kauffman Museum in North Newton used the palms of their hands on a table, making their black Sculpey clay go back and forth, working it to pliability.

A couple of kids compared their long rope-like forms of the modeling clay, with one having a way longer rope than the other.

A total of 21 students in grades kindergarten through second grade are enrolled in the camp. Every year, Kauffman Museum puts on Uncle Carl’s Camps and now it’s in its 23rd year.

We have been doing art in Kansas and Kansas symbols was the emphasis,” instructor LaDonna Unruh Voth said, adding that in the afternoon that week, she taught a class called Figuratively Speaking, where third- through sixth-grade students learned about drawing the human form.

Since the Art in Nature camp involved putting nature in art, attendees learned about that.

About the symbols, mostly the Kansas things,” camper Clara Miller, eight-years-old, said about what she learned.

She said the state bird is the meadowlark and that the state amphibian is the Barred Tiger Salamander. She also said the cottonwood is the state tree.

Sunflower is the state flower,” she said, agreeing it was a fun camp for her.

Miller’s little sister, Maddie Miller, age six, liked camp, as well.

Making things,” she said about what she enjoyed.

When talking to the class, Voth told the students while they were rolling out the Sculpey, that if their guess was they were going to make Barred Tiger Salamanders, they were right.

Take a good look at their legs,” she said, while showing a photo of the animal on an overhead. “It’s got a body and four legs.”

She said they were starting by making the body completely black and then they used yellow Sculpey to make the stripes, just like a real salamander of that kind.

Each camper rolled his or her largest Sculpey clay chunk into a ball and then slowly formed it into the body.

Whenever you make something—you’ve got your own artist eye for that,” Voth said.

Later, she asked the students what color they should make their salamanders’ eyes.

Red!” boys from a table with all boys exclaimed.

At another point, camp coordinator Aaron Tschetter told Maddie to give the salamander stripes like a bumble bee, all the while her sister was humming next to her, working on her salamander project.

Clara said it was their first time attending a camp at Kauffman Museum.

Art in Nature is just one of seven camps at Kauffman for a variety of ages from four-years-old to adult. That week, they had the two art camps—one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. Tschetter said next week will be the Unraveling History’s Mysteries camp, taught by Chisholm Middle School teacher Monty Graber. That will be a history camp with a mystery theme, he added.

As of Thursday, there were about 120-130 kids enrolled in various camps, with some of those repeats in various camps.

Tschetter said they still have openings in some of their camps, and they’re having the Farm to Table camps again this year, which have been popular.

The following is a list of upcoming camps:

Little Houses on the Prairie, ages four and five and not yet in kindergarten, 9-11:30 a.m., June 18-21 with instructor Kristin Neufeld Epp.

The Prairie is ALIVE! Open to those six- to eight-years-old or having completed kindergarten through second grade, 9-11:30 a.m., June 24-28 with instructor Kendall Smith.

Farm to Table, 9 a.m.-noon, July 8-12, ages 11 through 18 or completed grades five through 12, with instructor Karen Kreider Yoder. Campers will create a meal for themselves from scratch, making butter and cheese and will pick and pickle veggies. In addition, the instructor and interested campers will make and host a fundraising dinner with proceeds going to Uncle Carl’s Camps.

Farm to Table Together, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., July 16-19, ages nine to adult with adult/child pairs preferred. Instructor is Karen Kreider Yoder.

The cost of the camps is $70 per camper for museum members and $85 per camper for non-museum members. For more information, call Kauffman Museum at 316-283-1612.

Uncle Carl’s Camps are named after Charles Kauffman, who was affectionately called, “Uncle Carl.” He brought his museum in 1940 to North Newton from South Dakota.

He spent the next 18 years bringing history and the outdoor world to life for children and adults at the Kauffman Museum on the Bethel College campus,” a camp brochure stated. “In keeping with Uncle Carl’s tradition, Kauffman Museum offers discovery-oriented, hands-on summer camps for children.”