According to a 2010 study released by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the visual art specialist-to-student ratio in Idaho elementary schools is 1 to 2,335. That means there's only one trained artist per approximately six schools--if they're even invited into the classroom. The same study also revealed that only 28 percent of school principals in Idaho districts consider the arts a part of the core curriculum.
Which is why many parents turn to extracurricular arts programs and summer camps to provide a well rounded arts education for their children.
"The whole reason we do what we do is to fill the gap in the school system by providing quality arts education," explained Jon Swarthout, founder of the Treasure Valley Institute for Children's Arts. "They have a hard time doing that, so where they leave off, that's where TRICA picks up."
TRICA's 2012 summer camps cover an eclectic array of topics, including everything from breakdancing and yoga to African drumming and musical theater.
"Every year, it changes," Swarthout said. "We keep ones that really work and there is a niche for them in the community, and we add ones where they've gone well, like for instance the Jug Band Camp, that actually stemmed out of another program we have this year, the Re-Art program."
Boise Rock School also offers summer camps that engage kids in more eclectic artistic disciplines. In addition to learning how to shred the bass or pummel the drums, kids also can select a band name, make a poster and give a concert at the end of the camp.
"We always partner with the Shakespeare festival. They have what is called an apprentice program and we collaborate throughout the summer," explained Boise Rock School co-founder Ryan Peck. "They come up with an original play and then we write the music for it, which is kind of cool."
But not all parents can afford to provide their kids with these kinds of multi-faceted artistic experiences. Which is why both TRICA and Boise Rock School offer scholarships.
"Our policy is that no child is ever turned away for inability to pay. ... We simply say, 'Normally, that class is $159, what portion of that can you afford?' ... We go by honesty, and if people are wanting their children to [take a class] and asking for help, then we will do it," explained Swarthout.
Peck echoed those sentiments but added that it can sometimes be a struggle to accommodate every child who needs assistance.
"Thirty to 40 percent of our kids come at a discount or for free. ... It's part of our philosophy as far as making music accessible, but we've got to go pay the rent and the electric bills and stuff," said Peck. "So it's definitely a bridge that we're crossing as an organization."
But financial issues aside, both Swarthout and Peck agree that childhood arts education is invaluable.
"Arts education has a unique power to inspire children with a sense of expression. ... By creating something that they're a part of, they tap into their own creative nature and get something out of that. They create something. They contribute something to those around them," said Swarthout.
Here's a list of upcoming arts-oriented summer camps:
Treasure Valley Institute for Children's Arts
TRICA's week-long, two-hour-per-day summer camps include African Drumming and Dance, Ballerina Princess, Breakdancing, Broadway Splash, Girls Rock with Wild Thyme Studio, Hillbilly Jug Band with Travis and Alison Ward of Hillfolk Noir, Rock Band Camp with Ryan Peck and Jared Goodpaster of Boise Rock School, The Art and Play of Yoga with Brittany McConnell and The Art of Hula Hooping. All camps except for Rock Band Camp and Girls Rock are located at the Linen Building at 1402 W. Grove St. and cost $159 for the first camp, $139 for the second camp and $99 for every subsequent camp. Call 208-344-2220 to register and visit trica.org/summer-camps for more info.
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Camp Shakespeare options include Shakespeare and Me! (ages 3-5, $80), in which players learn lines from some of Shakespeare's most famous scenes; Shakespeare Shenanigans (ages 6-8, $225), in which campers explore characters from Shakespeare's most-popular plays; Short Shakespeare (ages 9-11, $225), in which students work to create a shortened, original version of a selected work; Shakespeare Intensive I (ages 12-14, $415), in which students work on a play they will produce at the end of camp; Advanced Shakespeare Intensive (ages 15-18, $415), a springboard to the ISF Apprentice Program, in which students work in depth on a play they will produce. Two sessions are offered of each class--one in June and one in July--with a final performance at the end of each camp. Other options include Camp Improv (ages 10-18, $165), which teaches basic improv skills and Camp Musical (ages 10-18, $165), in which students learn the joys of musical theater. Classes take place at Boise Contemporary Theater at 854 Fulton St. For more info, call 208-429-9908, ext. 206, or visit idahoshakespeare.org/summer-camps.
Boise Rock School
Boise Rock School's week-long summer camps are two-and-a-half hours a day and divided by age group (6-8, 9-12, 13-17) and skill level. Beginner, intermediate and advanced camps are offered during every session, with the first camp starting Monday, June 4, and the final camp beginning Monday, Aug. 13. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival Apprentice Program will start Wednesday, June 13, and run every week as a regular class for 10 weeks. Camps are located at 1404 W. Idaho St. and cost $150 a pop. Sibling and multi-camp discounts are available. For more info, call 208-559-0065 or visit boiserockschool.com.
School of Rock Eagle
These week-long summer boot camps include studio/band rehearsal time and music appreciation. Classes run 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and some experience on the student's instrument of choice is required. Sessions start Monday, June 4; Monday, June 18; Monday, July 9; and Monday, July 23. Classes cost $175 each and take place at 539 S. Fitness Place, Ste. 150, in Eagle. For more info, call 208-939-2229 or visit eagle.schoolofrock.com/local-camps.
Morrison Center Summer Performance Camp
Students learn acting, singing and dancing while rehearsing Twinderella, the Musical, the story of Cinderella and her long-lost twin brother Bob, at the Morrison Center. These week-long, all-day camps begin Monday, July 9; Monday, July 16; Monday, July 23; and Monday, July 30. Camps cost $195 and include a final performance at the Danny Peterson Theatre. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 208-426-1034.
Boise Art Museum
Boise Art Museum is offering three week-long summer camps for kids ages 4-12, which are divided into morning sessions from 10 a.m.-noon and afternoon sessions from 1-3 p.m. and cost $50 for members and $60 for nonmembers. Beginning Monday, June 11, Art From Asia will explore old and new techniques from China and Japan for making paintings, prints and ceramics. Starting Monday, June 18, Sounds Like Art will explore dance, movement and sound in the work of artist Nick Cave. And beginning Monday, Aug. 13, Suits and Sculptures will look into Cave's wearable sculptures called Soundsuits, and students will design sculptures and works of art with found objects. To register, visit boiseartmuseum.org/education/classes.php.
Ballet Idaho offers week-long, two-hour-a-day Storybook Ballet Camps for kids ages 3-5 from 10 a.m.-noon, and kids ages 5-7 from 1-3 p.m. Camps teach technique, craft, story and etiquette, and conclude with a performance. Cinderella runs Monday, June 11-Friday, June 15; Swan Lake runs Monday, July 16-Friday, July 20; and The Sleeping Beauty runs Monday, Aug. 13-Friday, Aug. 17. Camps cost $175 and take place at Ballet Idaho. For more info, call 208-343-0556 or visit balletidaho.org/summer-programs.
The Cabin offers Idaho Writing Camps for students in grades 3-12. The week-long camps run from either 9 a.m.-noon or from 1-4 p.m. at The Cabin, located at 801 S. Capitol Blvd. Satellite locations include the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls and The Center in Hailey. Camps cost $145 each and include publication. Topics are Word Play (grades 3-4), in which students craft imaginative poems and stories; Cabin Writers (grades 5-6), in which students discover how art, music and nature can help them uncover their inner voices; Urban Ink (grades 7-9), in which campers explore cityscapes, coffeeshops and public art and learn to create unique characters; Writing Wild (grades 4-6 and 7-9), in which students explore the natural world and craft stories outdoors (drop-off is at the Foothills Learning Center); and Picture This (grades 5-6 and 7-9), in which campers explore the connection between visual art and the written word with collage, comics, poems, stories, paintings and pictures. There are also two-week workshops for more experienced writers (grades 10-12) that cost $210 and challenge writers to draft, critique and revise their poetry and fiction. For more info or to register, call 208-331-8000 or visit register.thecabinidaho.org.