It’s a busy Friday afternoon in June. The Blackman Music Building at Converse College is all abuzz with children in matching brightly-colored t-shirts, some with painted faces, others in hats and costumes, and several anxiously awaiting the chance to grab their parents by the hands and show them their art and writing projects that are on display. Interspersed among the young faces are those of several Converse students, gleefully overseeing the activity and sharing in the children’s pre-performance jitters. This is a typical Family Day at the Lawson Academy Fine Arts Day Camp, a program that has helped to provide Spartanburg children and Converse students alike with a unique experience in the arts for the past sixteen years.
Founded in 1996 by a Converse alumna and teacher in the school’s Pre-College program (now known as the Lawson Academy), the Fine Arts Day Camp was originally designed to give Converse arts and education majors the opportunity to work with children in a creative atmosphere outside of the traditional classroom, while providing families in the community with an artistic alternative to conventional summer daycare. These two goals are still undoubtedly the mission of the program, but the camp has evolved and grown throughout the years and now attracts families from all around the Upstate.
After being housed at various community churches over the years, the Fine Arts Day Camp (or FADC) made its way back home to Converse last summer, holding classes in the Milliken Art and Blackman Music Buildings. Campers were thrilled to experience the arts in real college classrooms, and the Converse students who serve as teachers and counselors were right at home in the same classrooms in which they had been prepared to teach.
In a typical day at FADC, campers (age four through rising sixth grade) attend fifty-minute classes in visual arts, creative writing, dance, music, and theater, in addition to a “small group” class of games, crafts, and other activities with their own grade levels. Special days throughout the week feature visiting Guest Artists who demonstrate their own use of the arts in real, grown-up life to inspire these budding young performers. At the end of each two-week session, friends and family are invited to Family Day to watch the campers perform songs, skits, and dances onstage in Daniel Recital Hall, and to view their showcase of art and creative writing projects.
But FADC is more than a daycare, more than a teaching opportunity, more than a series of classes and performances. For the many families who remain a part of the program for years, it becomes an important tradition. After attending camp from a young age through the preteen years, many campers find it difficult to give up the FADC experience and return to volunteer their summers as Junior Counselors who assist in classes and activities. Some former campers have even returned to FADC as employees after enrolling at Converse. For these individuals, FADC is like a family in itself.
If you would like your child to experience the arts in a nurturing, creative atmosphere this summer, please visit the FADC website or contact camp director Janae O’Shields at email@example.com or by phone at (864) 596-9607.