SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - With paintbrush in hand, Dillan Alter looked down at a pile of various dollops of paint, contemplating which color to use next.

His ceramic frog smiled softly back at him from atop a table.

The 2-year-old then dipped his brush in blue paint and began to bring his new art project to life at the Arts & Craft Center here, Jan. 8.

Across the room, a handful of children gathered around a table weaving potholders. Next to them, a pile of bean mosaics lined the counter. The projects represented the artful talents of the students at the Keiki Craft Camp.

"Weaving is definitely the hardest project so far," said Jalen Kuhn, 9, "but it's the most fun. "You get to pick your own colors and be more creative," she continued, "and it's something I've never done before."

The four-day craft camp presented an array of projects for young Picassos. They could paint ceramic animals, create landscape mosaics out of colorful beans, weave potholders and express their aloha spirit on brightly colored canvases filled with surfboards and palm trees.

"This is a chance for the kids to unleash a creative power," said art instructor Nikki Mizak. "With so many schools cutting art programs, the children have an outlet here to maximize their talents."

The Schofield Barracks Arts & Crafts Center is continually changing to appease the growing desires of the military ohana. From painting to photography to stained glass, creative classes are available for every member of the family.

"There is always something new here," said family member Erica Wetzel. "The classes are great for the kids and gives them something fun to do."

Every child is born with creative potential, which shows off his or her uniqueness, said Nikki Mizak. Through art, children are able to see things in a new and unusual light, she added.

Children giggled and leaned over other students' shoulders to get a glimpse of the competition. Paint, brightly colored fabric, brushes and other supplies occupied tables. The young artists chatted among themselves, exchanging ideas on their current task.

"These colors match really well," said Kylee Barnes, 6, holding up pink, green and red cloth to weave. "I'm making this potholder for my mom."

"I'm going to give my ceramic octopus to my teacher," chimed in Kuhn. "My teacher likes surfing, so I think she'll like it."

"I'm going to hang my painting in my room," said Brenner Kemper, 7.

The Keiki Craft Camp is offered several times throughout the year, usually during school breaks, to stimulate creativity and quell children's thirst for knowledge.

"It's great to see how the kids change over the course of the camp," said arts specialist Tammy Bruce, Schofield Barracks Arts & Crafts Center. "Their skills blossom and start to reflect their own personalities."

Bruce explained that projects are designed to enhance the artistic skills of each child and challenge them to be open and creative.

"The projects are not always easy, but always fun," she said, explaining that children push themselves to create something they didn't know they could.

"It's kind of like being in school because it involves learning," said Kuhn, "and it teaches you new things."

Kuhn then held up her freshly painted canvas carefully, cocked her head and looked at it for a few moments adding, "but this is more fun."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16