Friday, July 9, 2010

Mass Audubon Drumlin Camp - Very Impressive !

2 weeks before the camp I received a call on my mobile and on my home phone, as well as an email reminding me that I have not yet submitted the information packet for my daughter's Farm Mania Camp. Of course, I had received the packet a couple of months back and in our truly crazy fashion, would have filled it out the night before the first day and handed it to a distracted counseler who would look harassed before anything had even started.

But this was not to be so, I was warned of a deadline and I *had* to fill out everything a week ahead (that is record breaking!) and Dad even delivered it on time ! The information packet was extremely detailed with what to bring, what to expect, questions about how to soothe your child if he/she is hurt. To top it all, there is even a website where you can view pictures taken each day of the week !

Everything about the camp was great and I fear I may make this an increasingly long post if I keep on writing. Starting from having dropoff/pickup stations (Shaggy Sheep, Tickled Turkeys and so on), asking for id for *every* pickup, not just the first day, having detailed report of any accidents - Aishani tripped on a root and scraped her knee-, to oranizing the days in a very well structured pattern - Monday was Cow Day, Tuesday was Chicken and so on, it was just so much fun along with being educational for the kids. The kids even made a theme appropriate snack everyday - butter from cream on Cow Day, oats and sugar mix on Horse Day and so on.

This was our first time and we are sure to come back next year. We liked it that the farm was closed to general public during camp hours. Apart from the program structure and execution, we found that that the counselers themselves were very passionate about what they were doing, they really seemed to like working with kids and enjoying it too!

I give it 5 stars, it has been a wonderful experience for my daughter and we as parents were impressed by the camp. To top it all, the week after the camp we received a detailed "Lost and Found" list email. Miraculously none of the items were ours but we are used to losing water bottles and bags in camps and never finding them ! And yes, I do label everything, in fact I highly recommend "Mabels Labels", but again, I digress.

Camp Timings-M-F 9am-3pm-Would have liked an extra hour
Camp After-Care - Available until 5.45 - did not sign up
Counselers - Excellent
Camp Content - Excellent
Camp dropoff/pickUp - Very Good
Camp Parking-Good-Better once you have figured it out 
Camp Cost - Members-$330 Non-Members-$430

Check out more at the Drumlin Farms official website.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Art of Selecting Summer Camps!

To be or Not to be! The latest ongoing topic in our home has been regarding the crucial decisions as to which summer camps will my daughter be attending this year. The criteria, unfortunately is not simply "what will she learn" or "what knowledge will be imparted (no predictions on what will be absorbed, of course), but most importantly the questions which are no less important are " who will drop her off, and (unavoidably), who will pick her up ?" , " Is there after care ?" What happens if we are 15 minutes late ?", " Are there any adult camp counselors or is it mostly CITs ?" and so on . Either ways, we managed to make our enrollments and the following camps were chosen.

There has been an attempt to plan a well balanced variety of activities, but the months to come will speak of how successful each one is. I was oblivious to the "world of camps" until now, and it is amazing how difficult it is to find sites where detailed information about local camps are easily available. In my attempt to document my research in this all important subject, I have listed out her camps as well as their websites for parents looking for more information. I will, in the weeks to come - rate each camp based on our experiences as parents as well as their "fun scale" rating from my daughter.

Drumlin Farms

Home Cooking

Chess Camp

Club Invention

Discovery Museums

Performing Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

Sky Hawks All Sports

Little Gym

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alpona - Ancient Art in Modern Times

One of India’s most creative expressions of creative art is Alpona. Traditionally these drawings were made in front of doorways and in courtyards during auspicious occasions to drive away the influence of evil and welcome peace, wealth, health and ever lasting happiness

The original medium used for this art is a paste of ground raw rice. A cotton ball or a piece of cloth is used and dipped into this paste to make the beautiful designs. Being white, they were most prominent on mud floors.

Nowadays different types of medium are used on a variety of different types of surfaces. This graceful art can be done using acrylic paints, chalk, markers etc. Initially it was expected that alpona would always be white but now artists are experimenting with different colors and designs. This inspiring art can be also be done with flowers or the rich colors of a variety of grains - dals, rice and other beans are used to make elaborate patterns.

The art of Alpona is not just a part of the culture and art of Bengal, it has a special and traditional place in every important event in the household. From annaprashans to weddings, in pujas and rituals, the Alpona is considered auspicious and lucky .

It is prevalent in all parts of India, but with variations in the technique of the drawing as well as the traditional mediums used. The essential essence of the art is the same, it is believed to welcome peace, good health and prosperity as well as ward off evil influences.

The myriad terms used are Aripana in Bihar, Madana in Rajasthan, Rangoli in Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra, Chowkpurana in Uttar Pradesh and Kolam in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Muggu in Andhra Pradesh.

The designs are symbolic and common to the entire country, and can include geometrical patterns, with lines, dots, squares, circles, triangles; the lotus, trident, fish, conch shell, footprints (supposed to be of goddess Lakshmi), creepers, leaves, trees, flowers, animals and figures. These motifs often are modified to fit in with the local images and rhythms.

The basis of the word 'Alpana' has two different versions. As per one version, it originated from the Sanskrit word 'Alimpana', meaning 'to plaster with' or 'to coat with'. The other version traces its roots to the word 'Alipana', meaning the art of making walls or embankments. This art is also related to the intricate Mandalas in Buddhism.

Immersed in ancient practices and reaching modern heights, Alpona is today an integral part of Indian culture.

Alpona with Flowers

Alpona with Grains & Beans