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Camp lets kids explore their artistic talents

The von Trapp family would envy the sound of music being — made this summer at Earth Teach Fine Arts Camp - not just music, but dance, — art, drama, poetry, fabic art - all in a remote mountain setting nine — miles east of Ashland.

Created last year for kids 6 to 16, the art-in-nature — adventure drew 42 youngsters and expects twice that this year, with about — half of them getting their tuition paid by scholarships from Oregon Communities — Foundation, Riley Foundation and Cow Creek-Umpqua Indian Foundation.

"We created this to develop that sense of 'who am I,'" — said co-director Tish Seinfeld of Ashland, who also teaches guitar and — piano. "That's what kids told me last year, that when they are engaged — in art, they really know who they are."

The camp got its inspiration from the Suzuki violin tradition, — which believes that "anyone can do it," said founder-director Martha Phelps — Cotton. "Everyone has the ability to create art, act in plays and make — music, if given a chance to sample everything and the opportunity to practice — - and at reasonable price, cheaper than private lessons."

Kids are offered four of 40 possible classes to delve — into and see the rest performed or displayed on gala lunch gatherings. — Teachers are drawn from a rich pool of professionals skilled in their — areas - modern dance, expressive dance, drawing, painting, portraiture, — mask making, instrument making, face and body casting, choir, vocal music, — guitar, conducting, puppet-making, improv acting, comedy, fairy-tale writing, — poetry, prose, journaling, photography, fiddling, bluegrass and drumming, — plus "joshing" - just having fun with a teacher named Josh.

The experience is designed to be a "very big sandbox," — in which one can get away from the routine of family, TV, computers and — town and have the experience of building a new kind of community, where — they are bashful the first day, but laughing, shouting, creating and draping — themselves around each other by the end of the second day, said Cotton.

It helps fill in for declining funding of the arts in — public schools, she added, and, unlike athletics, provides its community — dimension without competing against others.

The Earth Teach team is exploring working with home schoolers, — Southern Oregon University and the public school system to partner with — arts education, providing "Fine Arts Friday" when schools are out for — in-service training or parent conferences, said Cotton, a former public — school teacher.

"It was great, a really good idea that gives challenging — activities in a setting of beauty," said Pam Shaver of Ashland, parent — of Giada Shaver, 11, who went last year. "She took songwriting and has — since written a lot of songs for guitar. She wants to go again and she — is."

Jasper and Kiri, the children of Nando Raynolds of Talent, — did drama, dance and art classes last year and will attend this summer. — "It's very community building, well-supervised and taught by skilled teachers — who are sweet, warm and good-natured," Raynolds said.

Strings teacher Patricia Potter of Ashland said the classes — keep up kids' motivation in the summer, open them to new friendships outside — their in-school group and stimulate parts of the brain that carry over — into other scholastic activities.

The first session, June 21-25, is for age 6-10. The second, — June 28-July 2 is for 6-10 and 11-16. It runs 9 a.m. to — p.m., with day — care until 5. Cost is $250, with scholarships, based on income and essay — answers on the application, available on request. Visit id.mind.net/~finearts, — e-mail finearts@mind.net or call 488-5120 for more information.