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Summer camp hits dog days

Hamilton, Ohio – Summer camp at the Fitton Center is going to the dogs.


Or – more accurately – a shelter dog is coming to the Fitton Center to thank the young summer-camp artists making toys to donate to Stray Animal Adoption Program from Newport, Kentucky.


It’s all part of Summer Camp Creativity 2023.

Compassionate Campers - for ages 5 to 9 – runs 10 a.m. to noon Monday, July 10, to Friday, July 14. Veteran camp instructor Sharon Theard teaches the new camp concept.


SAAP plans to bring a dog Thursday, July 13, to meet the campers and give braided crunchable sock toys they’ll make a test run. Or pull. Or chew.


“It’s a camp that focuses on social-emotional learning techniques,” said Kate Rowekamp, Director of Education & Outreach. “Social-emotional learning is one of the newer trends in education. The conferences I’ve attended recently all have had sessions on it and I wanted to have a camp that reflected that kind of learning.”


Campers will spend the week getting in touch with their feelings, practicing mindfulness, collaborating and reflecting on how they can have a positive influence on their community.


“It’s kind of using art to explore emotions, practice empathy, and consider one’s potential for impact within a community,” Rowekamp said. “It’s really important, especially at that age, to know your feelings and the feelings of others are valid. That way when campers collaborate on projects, they can build strong relationships by exercising compassion and respect.”

That’s the idea with the dog toys.


In addition to creating several projects for themselves – including self-affirmation art and worry monsters that can gobble up any fears – campers offer a positive impact on their worlds by making braided crunchable sock toys for SAAP.


According to its website, SAAP “is an all- volunteer, non-profit organization that exists to rescue, protect and provide care for at-risk pets. We promote lifelong adoptions while focusing on spay/neuter and the education of animal welfare.


The connection between the Fitton Center and SAAP is personal. Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley went through the shelter to get his family’s dog.


“We’re very excited to have SAAP here with us for camp,” Rowekamp said. “I think the kids will have a lot of fun playing with the dog and the dog will have a lot of fun playing with the toys they make.”


In addition to Compassionate Campers, four other Fitton Center camps begin July 10. Abstract Art (ages 7-12) and Creative Writing (ages 12-16) run through July 14. Jewelry Making (ages 12-16) and Youth Comedy (ages 7-12) are two-week camps that run Monday through Friday through July 21.


Several spots remain for the camps. For additional camp details and registration information, please click here.


The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.


Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture



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