Steamboat youths get creative on school days off |

Steamboat youths get creative on school days off

Kellen O'Connell, 6, with a paper bag fashion design "space cowboy" costume.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs children haven’t let COVID-19 dampen their creativity thanks in part to Creative Adventures camps hosted by Steamboat Creates.

The nonprofit has announced more camp dates in March and April for children in grades kindergarten through fifth. Creative Adventures camps are an extension of the Young at Art summer camps, which Steamboat Creates has hosted since 1986 at the Depot Art Center. Young at Art expanded into year-round programming in 2019 as a way to offer creative arts during the Steamboat Springs School District’s planned days off, including holidays, parent teacher conference days and teacher training days.

“Our goal with this expansion is to increase opportunity for kids to engage with creative arts, increase work opportunity for local artists to teach, and to assist families with child care during school days off,” said Sylvie Piquet, program director for Steamboat Creates.

Typically, the camp features two local artists each day who teach children during both a morning and afternoon session. The instructors bring a wide array of knowledge to the camps and programming is widely varied to include painting, sculpting, printing, designing, jewelry-making, weaving and drawing.

Diane Davis has taught the camps for three years; last summer, she taught Gnome Houses and Fairy Gardens.

“It was absolutely amazing what kind of creations were assembled,” Davis said. “It was like being transported to that tiny world. It is so amazing how these kids embrace the arts and open up their minds to the creative side.”

How to sign up

To register for upcoming Creative Adventure camps, visit

In an upcoming session, Davis will be teaching “Paint Your Heart Out.” These acrylic painting classes will teach children how to create masterpieces with the three primary colors and much more.

“We do everything from self-portraits to a variety of mixed media items from the outdoors and incorporate these items with the imagination and painting,” she explained.

Other teachers include local artists Cas Wilhelm, Tony Urbick and Jan Rastall. With a wide variety of experience, they all agree that their goal is simple: to provide basic art instruction and practice fundamentals while encouraging self-expression.

Ivy Hughes, 6, with a felt finger puppet. (Courtesy photo)

“Steamboat Springs has a rich, vibrant art community,” Rastall said. “The arts build communities within communities, and these camps encourage community building and holistic development.”

Rastall also points out that the creative process plays a role in healthy development, and these camps serve to encourage creativity and imagination.

Jennifer Grathwohl’s 6-year-old daughter Liliana has attended several camps and loves them.

An activity called paper quilling. (Courtesy photo)

“She enjoys learning new art skills and processes, while at the same time, getting to freely express her ideas in various mediums of her choice,” Grathwohl explained. “As a parent, I appreciate the balance of instruction and self-choice for her. The staff are engaging and challenge her to think outside the box. When she comes home from camp, she is buzzing with new ideas, and I really believe it builds her confidence.”

When year-round programming began in 2019, Steamboat Creates hosted 68 children in the camps; so far this year, they have 44 children registered with spots for many more through December.

Upcoming dates for Creative Adventures are March 12 and 15 and April 20 and 22. The camps will then pause for the Young at Art summer camps and will restart again with dates in October, November and December. To register, visit

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