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It's a jungle in there
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Artist and member of the Southern Heartland Art Gallery Carol Veliotis will direct butterflies, monkeys and toucans in painting, sculpture and sketching next week at the gallery's last children's art camp of the summer.

Of course, she really won't instruct animals, but those are the names of the children's age divisions since this year's art camp has a rainforest theme.

Not only will children make jungle-themed art, but also they will learn about conservation of natural resources found in rainforests.

"We recycle all the soda cans and bottles we consume at lunch," Veliotis said.

Budding young artists will first watch a video about the rainforest to familiarize themselves with indigenous flora and fauna and to inspire creativity.

Veliotis said children will create a wide variety of projects, all of which they may take home at the end of the camp.

Children will cut out and paint colorful butterflies, decorate bamboo walking sticks with feathers and beads, embellish coffee-can drums and adorn canvas totes for reusable shopping bags.

They will also make necklaces by stringing wooden beads and beads made from strips of magazine paper onto a strand of hemp.

The children's favorite activities from the previous two camps were junk-mail sculptures and "Imagination Boxes," according to Veliotis.

To make the junk-mail sculptures children cut up pieces of flyers, coupons or any other colored paper and turn them into pulp with water and a blender.

"It's fun because you take pieces of blue and yellow and it makes green, or red and yellow for orange," Veliotis said, "and you see it happening like a milkshake."

Children can shape the pulp into whatever their hearts desire and leave it to dry and harden.

"Imagination Boxes" start out as a simple shoe box filled with odds and ends such as buttons, tinsel, bottle caps, bits of fabric and sticks. The children then construct whatever they wish using the contents of the box.

"The kids' work on their Imagination Boxes really astounded us," Veliotis said. "They were amazing."

Two teenage volunteers - Eastside High graduate Bartavious Weaver, who will attend Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta this fall, and Newton High junior Crystal Howell - help the children with their projects.

Veliotis said both will receive letters of recommendation for helping the children focus and enjoy their time at the camp.

A few spots remain open for next week's camp.

"The kids absolutely love it," Veliotis said. "They don't want to leave at the end of the day."