More Than 200 Expected at Art Camp

Staff Writer

With summer vacation quickly approaching, parents may be looking for a way to keep their children busy and the first opportunity of summer comes in a free, four-day art camp at St. Paul United Church of Christ in New Bremen from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 10 through 13.
Started three years ago after New Bremen’s ecumenical vacation bible school dissolved, the church decided they wanted to institute something in its place and art camp was the result.
“This is an alternative to vacation bible school,” said Pastor Becky Erb Strang. “We began it three summers ago and it’s not about the kids of St. Paul, it’s about the kids in the wider community.
“We get registration forms in the hands of the kids in New Knoxville Schools, Minster Schools, Fort Loramie Schools, Bremen Schools and Maria Stein and Marion Local. And last year we had kids from Lima and kids from Troy. They just come from everywhere.”
The theme for this years camp is Care for Creation, according to Strang. During the art days ,students will be making crafts out of recycled materials such as milk jugs, water bottles and oatmeal containers. Children will be creating bird feeders, drums and maracas, tye dying their complimentary camp shirts and more during their time with St. Paul++++++ Art Camp.
At the end of the four fun-filled days, there will be a giant festival for everyone to play and have some fun.
According to Strang, each year the camp gets bigger as children spread the word about the fun they have there. And with the festival finale, parents and family members are invited to come as well. Strang estimated they will serve about 750 people during that final day. And they are ready for it.
“We have face painters, we have a bouncy house, we have a fire truck, we have the K-9 officer, we spill out into the playground,” she said. “We just started it last year and it was huge. Like I said, this is only our third year so we’re still tweaking as we go to make this as simple as possible because anything this large is not simple. We’re expecting anywhere from 200 to 250 kids this year.”
She added that they received permission from the village of New Bremen to shut down a portion of Herman Street for the entire festival to be able to set up work stations outside and for the festival.
Children potty trained up to entering seventh grade are welcome to participate in the art camp. Strang mentioned that the children will be split up at different stations to make the large crowd more manageable for the volunteers to teach how to make each craft. The preschool aged children and younger will be in self-contained rooms doing age-appropriate crafts that fit the theme as well.
Each day will start with the children meeting in the sanctuary before they split off into their groups. There will also be snack and playground time during each night as well.
Volunteers for the week are coming from a variety of backgrounds, Strang said. Some are classroom teachers but many are just those who enjoy working with children, she added.
Each group will feature one teacher with eight to 10 assistants to ensure crafts run smoothly.
“What’s been neat is our volunteer base isn’t just St. Paul people,” she said. “I just worked on a list of about not quite 20 people who have registered their kids and want to volunteer. So we have volunteers from all over, kids from all over, we have a nurse on staff, we have snacks that are all super healthy like Dannon is donating tons of yogurt products to us, Wagner is donating fruit for us.”
While many are donating food and their time, the supplies, the shirts and the activities at the festival didn’t come for free.
Strang mentioned the camp will costs about $6,000 to run and all of the money is coming from monetary donations from the United Church of Christ denomination and the New Bremen New Knoxville Rotary.
“Those are our two primary funders for this year so that we can make this happen,” she said. “This has yet to make it onto a budget of St. Paul’s budget because we just raise the money and make it happen.”
“It’s an amazing program, and as you’ve heard it has just grown every single year and we expect it to keep doing that because even the first year we did this, we had a deadline and we said walk-ins welcome,” Strang added. “Well a bunch of kids came the first night and they went home and told their friends and by the end of that week we had 100 kids because more kids just kept coming and that’s cool with us.
“We like to say we’re the church of the wide welcome so you can just come.”
Registration forms for the camp can be found online at or at the New Bremen Public Library and the New Bremen Coffee Co. & Books.
There is no deadline to register and walk ins are welcome all week during the camp.