The Star-Herald

Wintergreen celebrates artistic talents of Summer Arts campers

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — After launching their most successful session of Summer Arts camps, the people at Wintergreen Arts Center were eager to showcase the talents of their brightest young artists.

Everything from pine cone owls to photography, castles and solar system collages were on display during Wintergreen’s First Friday Art Walk exhibition on Aug. 6. More than 20 campers and dozens more family members gathered at Wintergreen to show off their work and talk about their favorite summer memories.

Throughout June and July, 246 campers participated in nearly a dozen camps, including the popular Art with HeART at Presque Isle Housing Authority and new camps in photography and arts and crafts at the Sargent Family Community Center. New camps at Wintergreen included Zoo Camp, Spy Camp and Retro Camp.

Starting in August, Wintergreen will host several more camps at its Aroostook Centre Mall location, including Video Games Camp and the return of AR Girls, as well as Nature Walk and part two of Arts and Crafts at the Community Center. Forty-five children have signed up for those camps.

Wintergreen executive director Dottie Hutchins credits the ease of COVID-19 restrictions, community partnerships and innovative new camps as reasons for families’ increased interest in Summer Arts.

“Last [school] year we never really knew what was going to happen. Everybody was kind of holding their breath to get through the year,” Hutchins said. “We were much more bold in creating camps this year. With the mask mandate lifting, everyone was more comfortable and excited.”

This summer marked the fifth time that longtime Wintergreen supporter Shaye McHatten has served as lead teacher for Summer Arts. A Mapleton native, McHatten created the original Art with HeART camp and has helped Wintergreen grow its summer programming since then.

By taking part in various arts and crafts projects, McHatten has seen campers grow in their creativity and self-confidence. She has welcomed numerous children back year after year and introduced new campers to the fun of making art.

“It makes me so happy to have watched many of these kids grow up,” McHatten said. “I love all their crafts and it’s so fun to see them get excited about their work.”

Wintergreen campers and their families are also grateful for McHatten’s guidance and support. Five-year-old Grace McGough of Caribou attended nearly all of McHatten’s camps this summer and couldn’t wait to show everyone her castle, tiger collage and other artwork.

“I liked the Mermaid Camp because we got to make slime,” Grace McGough said, about her favorite summer camp.

Grace’s mother Katie McGough, who recently became Wintergreen’s new program director, said that her daughter’s creativity has blossomed since attending preschool at Wintergreen two years ago.

“[Summer Arts] has been her favorite activity all summer. Being part of Wintergreen has really helped grow her love of art,” Katie McGough said. “She draws every day at home now.”

On Friday, Wintergreen campers premiered a special project that they completed as part of McHatten’s Video Production Camp: a 14-minute “TV news” segment in which they interviewed children of local farm families and potato production plants about the importance of farming in Aroostook County.

Ten campers ranging in age from 5 to 12 learned how to conduct field interviews and edit video footage to create a fun and educational product. In the video, campers tour potato and broccoli fields, enjoy homemade french fries and discuss the nutritional and commercial value of local crops.

“I hope they learned that when you put your mind to something, you can get great results,” McHatten said. “I’m proud of what they were able to accomplish.”

Camper Adrianna Johanson, 9, said that she had fun recording voiceover descriptions of Pineland Farms and McCain Foods for the video project. But the field trip to Penobscot McCrum’s Washburn production plant was her favorite part.

“We got to eat lots of french fries,” Johanson said.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — August 6, 2021 — Wintergreen summer camper Grace McGough, 5, shows off her penguin craft project during the First Friday showcase. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — August 6, 2021 — Wintergreen summer campers Peia Grant-Boxton, 10, (left) and Adrianna Johanson, 9, discuss McCain Foods french fry products as part of a video project on agriculture in Aroostook County. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — August 6, 2021 — Wintergreen video production camper Dylan Kelley (left) interviews Brandon and Hudson Porter at the Porter Farms potato house in Mapleton. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald)

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