Creative, family-friendly programs at Sea Island inspire the inner artist in kids and adults alike.
By Katherine Duncan
From painting a landscape to playing an instrument or even decorating cookies, all forms of art offer unique benefits. For example, studies have shown that participation in arts during early childhood promotes social and emotional development, with positive associations between creative activities and interpersonal skills like sharing and helping others. For adults, the perks of making art—even if your abilities don’t extend beyond stick-figure sketches—include reduced stress, improved mood and better focus. There are even more benefits for parents and kids when they work on creative projects as a team. A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that a positive transformation occurred in the relationships between mothers and children when they painted together.
At Sea Island, a wide range of family-friendly programs bring out the inner artist in members and guests of all ages, creating lifelong memories and often resulting in unique souvenirs. They also incorporate plenty of fun educational opportunities for kids. “They get to feel like they are accomplishing something and making something beautiful, and learning in the process,” says Annie Poore, activities assistant manager at Sea Island. “We try to keep the programs as educational as possible. They are taking something home that’s beautiful, which they made, and that their families can treasure for years to come.”
Each week, children ages 8 to 14 paint their own masterpiece to take home. Since 2016, the offering has expanded from kids-only to include opportunities for adults, as well as special events that families can enjoy together during the holidays.
“In the family classes, we see a lot of grandparents, and teenagers as well, so those have been a really cool multigenerational experience,” says Daniel Whitford, activities and programming manager at Sea Island. In addition to acrylic paint, Poore says that more mediums are now offered, too, such as watercolor, jewelry making and even “found art”
experiences using items sourced from the outdoors to make products like paint—such as berry-based colors—and paintbrushes. This fall, an hourlong Cloister Crafts event will take place around Thanksgiving, when families can make something special to give as a holiday gift. Private classes can also be arranged.
Camp Cloister and Kids’ Night Out
The resort’s young guests join the Junior Staff for a day (Camp Cloister) or evening (Kids’ Night Out) of crafts, games and other exciting activities. Both feature daily themes, such as Superhero Saturday and Turtle Tuesday for Camp, that the artistic experiences are based around. There have been many new themes introduced in 2019, like Camp Adventure Thursday, in which participants get to make their own version of binoculars. The schedule is flexible so that the Junior Staff can encourage kids to unleash their creativity. For example, Poore says that after finishing their planned superhero craft, one recent Camp Cloister group wanted to create their own Forky in honor of the character from the new “Toy Story 4” movie. The staff gathered the materials and later, at pickup time, the children were thrilled to introduce their parents to their own Forky friend. “Kids blow my mind with their creativity, so it’s fun bringing new materials and seeing how we can coach that to see what they come up with,” Poore says. Camp Cloister is available for
3- to 14-year-olds, while Kids’ Night Out is available for 3- to 12-year-olds.
Kids ages 3 and up get to learn about local wildlife and create their own stuffed animal buddy to take home. Poore says the program was recently revamped to make it even more educational, incorporating information from the resort’s nature programming, such as the sea turtle and falconry experiences. After discovering fun facts about approximately 10 animals found around the Island (the exact number fluctuates as the species change seasonally), kids get to select their favorite one to make. They stuff the toy themselves and even add a “wishing star” inside. Then, they decorate a T-shirt for their new friend to wear. Later during their stay at Sea Island, they can create a matching shirt for themselves if they take part in the resort’s popular tie-dye event.
Cookie crafts are the focus of this program, a longtime Sea Island tradition that is available for children ages 3 to 12. Kids don their personalized chef hats, then make and decorate cutout, themed cookies (think turkeys for Thanksgiving) that they can take home—and maybe even share with mom and dad. The experience goes beyond cookies, though. Poore says that additional food art opportunities are also based on the theme, which is influenced by the season, holidays and what’s trending with kids. For example, summertime edible crafts might combine a beach scene with crabs crafted from Oreos and Twizzlers, while fall sessions have included mini campfires made from pretzels and candy corn. “When we get kids [in our creative programs,] they’re coming in at their request,” Whitford says. “They’re here because they want to be, so it’s really fun for us to fuel that fire.”