Dover-based Charles River Creative Arts Camp celebrates 50 years – News – The Beacon-Villager – Google Alerts

DOVER Fifty years ago, men walked on the moon, nearly 500,000 rocked out at a festival in upstate New York called Woodstock and a summer camp began at the Charles River School.

Since then, thousands of children have spent their summers learning, building and creating. Some former campers became counselors, then staffers.

Then there’s Aaron Gelb — he was a camper-turned-counselor-turned-musician-turned-director.

“This is a special place,” said Gelb, who has been director for seven years. “We have camp all summer long … there’s a special sauce of diversity here. We cross socioeconomic barriers, age … we have people here from 16 to 70.”

Participants in the Charles River Creative Arts Program have their choice of more than 100 courses ranging from textiles to technology, as well as athletics, music and drawing. Forget popsicle-stick towers and lanyards — these campers use 3-D printers, computers, LED lights and more to create their projects.

For those who like more traditional projects, the camp has a course in black-and-white photography, complete with darkroom, along with a class in “The Art of Cake,” where campers learned to bake and decorate cupcakes from scratch.

It’s this ongoing blend of old and new that fascinates Gelb.

“It’s exciting to see,” he said. “There’s a new camp every year; evolution is part of our bloodstream.”

Gelb credited Priscilla Dewey, the director from 1972 to 1988, with turning the camp into a model of summer multi-arts education; according to the camp’s website, it has served “as the model for approximately 200 multi-arts programs worldwide.”

The Charles River camp not only draws families from around eastern Massachusetts, it partners with several local agencies, including the Josiah Quincy School in Chinatown, the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry and the Elizabeth Stone House.

Festival Day

The Charles River Creative Arts Program offers two summer sessions. At the end of each session, there’s a Festival Day,…

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