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The Creative Living Room: Rosemary Fox and Alison DeSalvo

January 14, 2010

From time to time, I conduct interviews of camp directors to get their advice for parents. This week, I spoke to Rosemary Fox and Alison DeSalvo, two of the four partners who run The Creative Living Room, an arts and dance camp for kids in Swarthmore.

There are so many camps! Do you have any tips on how parents can find the right camp for their children?

There are a few things to consider. First, if your child is really young (4-7), it is really important to look at the quality of the instructors. Who is teaching the camp? Also, what would you like your kids to get out of the camp? If the camp is geared towards running around and playing games, then deep subject knowledge is probably not important. But if the camp is more instructional in nature (arts, dance, music), then you’ll want to be sure that the instructors have deep knowledge of their subject areas.

What questions should a parent ask a camp director?

-What is the experience and education of the staff?

-Do you provide bios of camp staff?

-What is the supervision of the children? This is especially important for very young children. (A ratio of 1 counselor: 6 kids would be appropriate. Older children can have a higher ratio.)

How should you prepare your kids for camp?

You should run through the logistics of camp with your kids, so that they know what to expect. Let them know how the day will work – they will be dropped off, they will do activities, then get a snack, etc. Just running through the schedule can be very helpful.  Let the children know that they will be doing a variety of activities and that the instructor will help them with the activities. And of course, encourage your children to co-operate and listen to the instructor.

What’s unique about The Creative Living Room?

What is really unique about The Creative Living Room is the depth of experience of our instructors. Our instructors are all professional artists. They have very deep, meaningful experience in the arts they are teaching.

The camps are great fun, and we provide a welcoming and nurturing environment. We really focus on celebrating the process. It’s not just the end product, but how you get there.  But the end product is fun as well. Our camps all culminate in a student-driven performance. The creation of the performance really focuses the kids and engages them at a deeper level. The kids really enjoy showing what they’ve created over the week.

We are also excited to now offer Mommy and Me camps for 2-3 year olds. This is a fun way to introduce the very youngest kids to camp, in a safe and nurturing environment. And it’s fun for the moms as well.

We also have some very unique options for older kids (8-12 years), such as the mural camp we held. The mural class allowed kids to paint a real mural on a public wall, that really became a permanent piece of art.  This was a special opportunity and the type of experience that we like to provide for the kids.

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