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Main Line Art Center Summer Art Camp: Dan Deslaurier

April 4, 2011

Every so often we conduct interviews with camp directors to collect advice for parents looking for unique experiences for their kids. We recently exchanged emails with Dan Deslaurier, the co-director of the Main Line Art Center Summer Art Camp in Haverford, PA .  He has taught children’s classes at the art center for many years. During the school year, he’s the Lower School Art Teacher at Friends Select School in Center City Philadelphia.  After having taught at other Main Line area camps for years he chose Main Line Art Center as his new “summer teaching home,” and happily accepted the opportunity to both teach and direct last summer.

With so many camps available, how can parents find the right camp for their child?

Parents know their children best and need to ask plenty of questions about the place where their child will be spending the better part of the day.

What questions should a parent ask a camp? Any specific questions to ask an art camp?

It’s not just about the art. It’s about the whole camp experience:

  • If your child has any special physical/emotional/social needs, how can that particular camp accommodate (or not accommodate) your child?
  • What is the age/gender makeup of the other campers in their group?
  • What are the lunch/break time activities?
  • How large is the class size and what is the teacher/student ratio?
  • What is the variety of media/instruction?
  • Ask about teacher’s background.  Are they experienced artists as well, or merely someone who is working a summer job?

These questions are all as important, if not more important, than, for example, “How often do the kids use clay?”

Some kids attend as many as 10 weeks of summer camp.  The summer can seem long. Any tips on preventing camp burn-out?

My own children “grew up” at a local camp I taught at, going to work with me each and every day for the entire run of the camp.  So I have some experience with this challenge.  My wife and I made it a point to plan small, late-afternoon/twilight “family trips” like going fruit picking at a local orchard, or day trips to various attractions on the weekends.  In this way we were able to augment their long days at camp by including intentional, dedicated family-time.  We were doing fun things together in a variety of settings, even if it was a simple after-dinner drive through Valley Forge Park and ice-cream on the way home.  And sometimes we took along a friend of theirs from camp!

How should parents help kids prepare for camp?

A full-day camp really is a full-day; make sure your children get plenty of sleep and a good breakfast.   If your child takes any medication on a regular basis, don’t give them a “vacation” from their meds because “it’s just summer camp”.  That’s not fair to your child, the other campers or the instructors.

You’re spending your money on an opportunity for your children to grow and enjoy their summertime.  Create some moments to talk to your children about their camp experience, and be sure that they are really enjoying this special time.  If they aren’t, or are having a particular challenge at camp, you owe it to your children to take the time to talk to the camp director.   We really want to know what we can do to ensure that your child’s summer camp experience is fun and memorable.

Tell us what is special about Main Line Art Center Summer Camp.

Where to start?!?   The children who attend the Main Line Art Center Summer Camp love creating and at our camp they have many different opportunities to express themselves.  They are nurtured and encouraged by an experienced, choice group of teaching artists and friendly, attentive Teaching Artist Apprentices (our counselors).  From their first class on Monday to our festive celebration of their hard work at our Friday Family Art Party and Exhibition, our campers are truly immersed in their art experience!

Learn more about Main Line Art Center Summer Camp at

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