Free summer camp in Ocean Springs teaches art and science

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Art camp or science camp? Coast kids feeling torn between the two are able to get the best of both worlds this summer at Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs. Instructors say "Camp Leonardo" is about teaching children about the environment while exploring their artistic side. And the camp is free.

Spray bottles, Kool-Aid, and sponges shaped an activity that helped young minds understand the consequences of destroying wetlands.

Thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Moore said "With hands on if you actually learn about it and you can do something with it instead of just reading it. And then sometimes that information will just go straight through your brain."

Dozens of 11 to 13-year-olds walked the grounds of Mary C. on scavenger hunt for different types of plant life on Thursday. The kids have also been on field trips to places like the Pascagoula River basin and Sand Hill Crane Refuge. The Mary C.'s camp is free thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.

"We were able to take the base of Project Wet kids and incorporated that into our version which is the Camp Leonardo where we're adding art to this," said Barbara Canaga, program director. "We have tried really hard to take all the things that they've learned in these morning field trips to incorporate them into art projects."

Kids are encouraged to use art to express their feelings about what they're learning about the environment and to write those thoughts down in a memory book.

"We designed the cover for our journal," said 12-year-old Nathan Bolner. "Our art journal which we take around everywhere and we can draw pictures and take notes in it."

The Mary C. is putting on a second camp next week. Officials say there are so many children signed up they had to create a waiting list.

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