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Summer Day Camps for Children and Youth of the Gardere Area

Teen Camp 2014In 2004 Opening Doors began a summer art/educational camp for 12 to 15 middle school and high school-aged teens from the Gardere area. It began with the idea of creating murals to be shared with the library, school, airport and the gravitational center. The program was developed to provide safe summer activities for low income youth living in the Gardere area, nutritious meals and opportunities for the youth to express themselves through art. Currently the youth paint on canvases to take home. Young artists produce their own paintings as well as a group project. Instruction is given by a paid art teacher and volunteers. Some of these murals are on display at the Bluebonnet Library, Baton Rouge Municipal Airport and the Livingston Observatory.

In 2008, Opening Doors added an elementary art camp with an emphasis on reaching children with challenges in their lives. This camp has had a literacy focus as well as an exposure to art activities that have expanded the children’s knowledge. Approximately 12 to 15 children from the Gardere area have been served each year.

The director of the camp, Lillie Anderson, begins planning a year in advance, and the art teacher selects the theme. Themes have included such things as the community responses to needs of hurricane victims, music of Louisiana, healthy foods, birds of Louisiana and other areas of interest. In 2014, the South Burbank Crime Prevention and Development District provided a grant that allowed middle school-aged students to learn about safety issues.

Summer Art Camps 2016Transportation to the camp is provided by the parish constable without cost. The expenses for the program have been provided in current years by the organization for crime prevention in the Gardere community. Food is provided by a donation from Home Instead, an in-home assisted living program.

Lillie Anderson hears from many adults who attended the art camps in the past. Many attended college and currently some are in college. One former youth is majoring in art at LSU, plays on the football team and serves as the assistant to the art teacher. The art teacher conducts workshops for the LSU leisure class program and conducts workshop at other locations in the area.

Fourteen children attended the 2016 summer camp held July 11-29 at the Gardere Community Christian School. Camp times were 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. with lunch served at noon. With “Nutrition” as its focus the young artists painted their favorite foods.