students running

Students Soared to New Heights at Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp

14:00 PM - July 24, 2023

Excitement filled the air at the Sly Park Environmental Education Center as students congregated in small groups, their hands tightly clutching various instruments, digital cameras, paintbrushes, drama scripts, and more. The Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp, celebrating its 64th year, was in total production and greeted students from across the region.

Each day, students at the Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp immersed themselves in six hours of focused instruction. Afternoons were filled with leisure activities and organized pursuits, while the air echoed with melodies and laughter as musicians, actors, and artists honed their crafts. The camp's creative fervor fostered camaraderie and acceptance, allowing young talents to flourish. As the week drew to a close, everyone gathered to share their skills and harmonize in unison, as the students' newfound abilities and knowledge were showcased in a captivating gallery exhibition and performance, eagerly attended by their families, and celebrated their achievements. At this enchanting haven of art and self-discovery, students forged lasting memories.

While Sugarloaf demanded dedication and hard work from its students, it also served as a much-needed break from the routine of everyday life. "The camp offers an opportunity for children seeking a break from their regular school routines. There's something transformative about being at a overnight camp, away from parents, in a close-knit environment where everyone is dedicated to the arts or personal growth. By the end of the week, the kids truly undergo a positive transformation," explained Camp Director Andy Johnson. Both Andy and his fellow Camp Director, Brian Dezzani, were former campers themselves, driven by a deep desire to give back—an enduring testament to the profound impact that Sugarloaf has on its participants. Brian, who travels from Portland, Oregon, where he serves as the Director of Recreation Services for the University of Portland, is drawn back to the program by the vibrant community of campers, the chance to play music with friends, staff, and the opportunity to foster creativity in young minds. 

On the other hand, Andy resides in the Bay Area and works in the financial services industry. For him, the camp serves as a refreshing departure from his regular job, allowing him to stay connected to his hometown community and the arts that shaped him. "Being campers ourselves in the past, we understand the profound impact this experience can have on a young person's life," Andy added, emphasizing the personal connection he and Brian have with the camp's mission.

The Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp embraced students from various backgrounds, fostering inclusivity and accessibility. While open to students from 5th through 11th grade, the camp ensured opportunities for students beyond El Dorado County by accepting applications from all regions. Moreover, the Sugarloaf Station Foundation offered a tuition assistance program, enabling students facing financial constraints to attend the camp and embark on a transformative artistic journey.

The success of the Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp is made possible through tireless teamwork and unwavering dedication. The program was administered by the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE), with the support of several team members in educational services, IT, and communications, who assisted the Sugarloaf staff and volunteers. Service groups, such as the Kiwanis Club of Placerville, Rotary, and the Sugarloaf Station Foundation, played crucial roles in establishing and maintaining the camp facilities. Dr. Ed Manansala, County Superintendent of Schools, attended one of the final performances and expressed heartfelt gratitude, stating, "We extend our sincere thanks to our team members, volunteers, donors, educators, the Sugarloaf Station Foundation, Community Observatory, Placerville Kiwanis Club, and our local Rotarians for making this truly extraordinary experience possible for our students."

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