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Art camps hit the square
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 School's out for the summer and children are full of energy. Summer camps are in full swing and activities around Covington are heating up with the weather.

Members of the Southern Heartland Art Guild are holding three summer art camps at the Southern Heartland Art Gallery at 1132 Monticello Street on the square in downtown Covington.

The first session begins on Monday and will run through Thursday with the other two happening July 7-10 and July 14-17. Each class meets from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

 Several prominent artists from around Newton County will instruct the classes including guild members Arline Chapman, Carol Veliotis, Diana Brown, Ann Wildmon and Jan Jentzen.

 The camps target children ages 6 to 12 and are open to any level of student, especially ones with no art experience.

 "We hope to foster an interest in visual art," Veliotis said. "We really encourage kids to be creative and just love to see what they can do."

 Each camp has a theme and this year is no different. Last year the camps followed a rainforest theme and students made art depicting different facets associated with the jungle and life in the Amazon regions. This year plans to be all encompassing as students will create art from around the world.

 "We thought about it and someone threw out the idea to do art from around the world," Veliotis said. "Everyone kind of looked, thought about it for a minute and we decided to run with it."

 Veliotis said the group of instructors at the guild has been preparing for the camp for nearly a year and they hope to build off of last year's success.

 "Last year's camp was awesome," she said. "We were amazed at some of the things the kids made. This year we will go one step further with the theme as we introduce the different styles of art from various places around the world."

 Some of the activities are meant to serve a dual purpose in both teaching students the foundation of indigenous art as well as educating them on cultural aspects of select countries.

 Dubbed "around the world in four days," several of the projects reflect the ideas originated in various countries. Among some of the projects, students will make Italian paper mosaic art, Canadian puppets, French papier-mache, African masks and American refrigerator magnets.

 One of the most popular aspects of the camps returns this year as the students will all receive a "what not" or imagination box - a shoebox filled with all kinds of materials commonly found around the house.

"The kids absolutely love their imagination boxes," Veliotis said. "Basically we collect things like shoestrings, Popsicle sticks, buttons, bottle caps - you name it - and we put it all in these boxes.

 "Last year the kids were always asking when they could get into their 'what not' boxes."

 Veliotis added the boxes are great for downtime when students finish their projects and said each child will get to keep them at the end of the camps.

 Students must bring a sack lunch as each day the group will have a picnic in the square. Children will get to show off their art to their contemporaries and they get to take home all their projects on Thursday.

 Parents can show up on the morning the camp starts to register their child. Pre-registration is encouraged and can be done at the gallery or by e-mailing Sharon Chandler at The cost for a single child is $165 and siblings receive a 15 percent discount.

 The guild hopes the camps introduce art to impressionable students who may not have yet been exposed to visual art. But more than that, the camps promise to be fun and interactive.

 "Kids today are so lucky they have art in the schools," Veliotis said. "There have been studies done that show children that have been involved with visual and performing arts have actually increased their IQs. It's amazing what their imaginations produce."