Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Summer Camps 2012

Camp Reviews


Summer is over (alas!) and we are into another new School year (woohoo!) which is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. We try to keep a journal of all the fun stuff that we did during the vacation months and one of them is to jot down how we liked each of the camps that Aishani attended this year.

So here is a chart based on a rating scale that is somewhere between the fun that the camper had and the level of sincerity, commitment and safety that the parents noticed at the camps. All camps were geared towards kids aged 8+.

While the "Fun Level" is completely the camper's opinion, the "Instruction" and "Administration" columns are rated mostly on the basis of parents' experience.  The "Will Go Back" answer is a combined decision of the whole family!

CampOffered ByFun Level (Kid)Instruction (Kid & Parent)TimingsAdministration/
Counselors (Parent)
First Time ?Will Go Back ?
Chess Camp
USA Chess**********9-4****YesYes
360 Gymnastics**8.30 - 5.30***YesNo
Camp Invention
*********8.30 - 3*****YesYes
British Challenger Soccer
Challenger Sports Full Day

*****8.30 - 3***NoNo
5.Drumlin FarmsMass Audubon**********8.30 - 5.45*****NoYes
6.Sewing **********9-12****YesYes
7.Digital PhotographyActon Recreation ****9-12****YesNo
8.Art CampActon Recreation********9-12****YesYes
9.Illustration CampActon Recreation*********9-12****YesYes

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Van Gogh - Up Close

“I…am always obliged to go and gaze at a blade of grass, a pine-tree branch, an ear of wheat, to calm myself." - Van Gogh wrote a year before he died.

The paintings displayed in the exhibition in the Philadelphia Museum of Art has all the signatures of the artist. The melancholy, the hope, the endlessness on his landscapes and the breathtaking beauty that emerged from those brushstrokes. It was an exhibition that filled the heart.

The Museum itself boasts of graceful architecture enclosing art of many varieties. We were visiting PA for a couple of days for a family event and was  pleasantly surprised to find that the exhibition was open until 8.45 pm.It was a rainy evening but the aura inside was festive - "Art after 5" was in session - with International and jazz live music, cash bar and h'orderves. But our focus was on the special exhibition and we picked our recorded tours and proceeded to it.

As soon as one steps into the room, a feeling of awe spreads like a wave on each visitor. To be surrounded and yet be so close, to each of these paintings - be able to lean forward and watch each dot and line, to be able to percieve the layers of colors that he used to portray the right "impression", that was a privilege.

The exhibition was arranged in the order of the age of the painting, so as we saw his paintings we also saw his life unfold, starting with his still life paintings with flowers and objects, portraits, gradually moving on to landscapes, his interest in Japanese paintings and culminating into the beautiful "Blossoming Almond Tree" which he painted for his brother's son, his namesake - Vincent.

My 8 and 4 year olds too were actually listening to the narrations provided for each painting. The Museum also did a great job of having a "Kids Activity Book" which had trivia questions and observation hints. A most curious one was " What is a common factor between all the paintings which had trees ? "  And the answer was " They all had no tops !" Of course this did not deter my kids from asking to go to the rest room "urgently" right midway through the exhibition (they are always strategic as not to plan that for the beginning or the end), but the beauty in the room was strong enough to bring me back to continue. Aishani had her book : Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Smart About Art) from her school library and she was thrilled to find the real counterparts of some of the paintings in the book !

My other favorite from that evening is "Undergrowth with 2 Figures".
In the last month of his life, Vincent van Gogh painted this lyrical scene: lovers arm in arm in a forest of poplars with wildflowers underfoot.

It was an enjoyable evening, the exhibition itself had excellent lighting, was well spaced with seating to view the paintings and ended into a gift store which had beautiful objects with the paintings printed on them. Obviously a lot of planning and effort had gone into this one and I hope to go back for the Gauguin Collections in June.

When we settle down at the Cafe after all was done, with our coffees and croissants, my 4 year old exclaimed "Guess what, Mom! This is about Art !". Well, seems like the kids did gain something after all on that evening.....