Every summer, children, from ages 8 to 12, in Manhasset, Long Island, open their hearts and minds to God’s love and beauty through fun and by engaging artistic exploration. Christ Episcopal Church, in partnership with its neighbor, The Community Reformed Church, provides this spiritual arts camp to underserved communities on Long Island each summer free of charge.
The five-day program blends Bible stories, storytelling, multicultural fables and ancient myths with various forms of art and theatrical activities to explore a spiritual theme that nurtures children’s faith and deepens their relationship with God.
Using structured activities and free exploration, along with joyful conversation and laughter, we encourage imagination and curiosity, expand the art of collaboration, and inspire self-confidence, authenticity and personal growth.
The spiritual arts camp is limited to 20 children, to allow us to provide an experience that offers personal and loving attention to each child. In all of our activities, we value inspired learning, fun, compassion, safety and excellence.
The children are in activities from 8:30 a.m. to noon. each day. Their morning starts with an opening prayer and group song, dance or game that welcomes them into the creative space. This is followed by three artistic sessions, each building on the other. The first hour focuses on the chosen spiritual theme, using unique storytelling formats and multi-sensory materials. Our spiritual theme is reinforced with an engaging lesson and group discussion.
For the final two sessions, we welcome art professionals, theater artists and special guests, who bring their gifts and life experience to the camp to further explore the spiritual theme in unique and creative ways.
The first session includes a theater arts experience: storytelling, improvisational drama, puppetry, movement, and music, to name a few. The last session of the day is dedicated to making art: Painting, sculpture, arts and crafts, collage, mixed media and drawing are all part of the program. No limits are placed on the children’s artistic expression.
This past summer, the camp focused on the spiritual theme, God’s Great World, as described in Nehemiah 9:6: You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
We explored the world as a creative celebration, deepening our appreciation and connection to all of the beauty and wonder: earth, wind, water, flowers, trees, animals, and most importantly, each other!
We made art with an amazing variety of materials, from arts and crafts, drawing, painting and collage supplies; items from nature; recycled materials; everyday objects and even trash. Everything was included as we explored how to care for and live more fully in this remarkable world, knowing that we are God’s greatest creation!
Lesley Mazzotta is director of spiritual formation at Christ Episcopal Church and Community Reformed Church in Manhasset, NY. You can read more about this combined program in a past Key Resources post.