On Monday, July 11, Linda Z. Smith will enter Creative 360 to begin her final week of Not Just Vanilla, the summer camp she has led for 37 years. The week-long camp for 3rd-6th graders will include dance, drama, art, sculpture, mask-making and poetry. There will also be some activities facilitated by a new book called Maybe Something Beautiful, a true story of how art and children/artists transformed a city from depression to lasting beautiful expressions. The group will document their processes for the author and book publisher and end their week with a performance for family and friends.
Not Just Vanilla (NJV) began in 1979 at the Midland Community Center out of one of Linda’s creative dance classes called Not Just Dance, and her desire to help children experience all of the art forms. Thousands of children have been in these camps over the years. At one time, NJV was a year-round program for children in grades 2-6 who were in the Not Just Vanilla Performance Company. Many of these children have gone into creative fields as adults and tell Linda their Not Just Vanilla experiences gave them the courage to try anything without being afraid of failure. A true testament to the program’s impact over the years is that this year’s K-12 camp was attended by the children and grandchildren of seven of her former students.
“I wish every child could have these creative experiences that build their confidence and resources for expression,” said Linda. “I know every child (and adult) is healthier when they are being creative. Their self-confidence soars!”
The decision to make this NJV camp her last was not an easy one, but Linda says it feels like the right time. She is hopeful that some of her former helpers and students from her teacher education classes at CMU and SVSU will want to take it on. “I am willing to support and help any talented and creative teacher who would like to continue the program,” she said.
There is still space available in next week’s camp. If your child would like to attend, please call 989-837-1885 or register on the Creative 360 website.