School might be out for summer, but for nearly 150 Baltimore County students the time off is a chance to attend a two-week visual arts camp in order to hone their artistic skills and develop their craft.
"It doesn't feel like school," said Kacie Meep, a 17-year-old rising junior at Carver Center for Arts & Technology. "It's more doing what you love. It lets you practice when you're not forced to."
The camp, offered to high school and middle school students, is held at Perry Hall High every summer. For the high school group, one of the highlights of the session is a trip to sketch and paint landscapes and the architecture at Hampton National Historic Site in Towson.
Cameron Kelly, 16, a rising senior at Carver, said the camp, and particularly the trip to Hampton, provide a different setting for improving his art.
"When I'm in class, I don't have as much time to get into it," said Kelly, who plans to focus on painting and sculpting next year. "Here, I have time. I don't have to worry about getting to my next class or getting a grade."
Caroline Morris, 16, of Towson, said the camp has provided a different style of teaching and learning than she gets at Carver.
"We usually have 90 minutes to work on a painting every other day," Morris said, about classes at school. "Here, you can work on a painting for a whole day."
She also said that the camp – and especially the trek to Hampton Mansion — affords more opportunities for plein air drawing and painting than during the school year at Carver.
"There weren't that many places to go," he said. "With this, there's more feeling."
Many of the Carver students, including Morris and Meep, said they signed up for the camp at the urging of teacher Terry Shovlin. Mike Bare, the former Baltimore County Public Schools art teacher who runs the camp, said all the students who sign up are dedicated to improving on their skills during the session.
"A lot of the kids here are neat in that I don't think you can teach a kid that, the desire to learn and get better," Bare said. "They have the opportunity, like a real artist, to make art."
For those who don't get the dedicated art teaching that Carver provides, the camp is an opportunity to focus on art without any restrictions. Claudia Newsome, 15, of Cockeysville, who is a rising junior at Dulaney, said the camp has helped her grow her passion for drawing.
"I've been drawing since I was 4, so my dad said I should get into something over the summer that had to do with my artwork," said Claudia, who also attended the camp last year.
"The experience of being outside is really just a nice experience," Bare said. "It's just exquisite today. You don't really have to worry about if you come home with a beautiful painting."