Aug 092012

As summer has progressed we’ve found ourselves with a mixed bag of experiences. Fortunately for the kids it’s all been good but for the parents, well, it could have gone better.

But first, the happy.Coyote Central

The good folks over at Coyote Central have turned in another rock-star performance. If you’re not familiar with Coyote Central it’s an organization of teaching artists who share their expertise in a wide variety of disciplines with adolescents age 10-14.

Last year our son attended the stop-motion animation class, which is part of Studio Coyote, and it changed his life. As we went through the week we knew he was having a good time but on the last day as he was milking a few final moments of stop-motion production he turned to me with trembling fingers and said, “Can I keep doing this class?”

“Sure,” I said, “we’ll sign up for it next summer.”

Small tremulous voice, “No. Now. Next week. I want to keep doing it.”

Taken aback all I could do was respond with the lame parental answer, “Um, we’ll see.”

When I say that this class changed his life I wasn’t really kidding. This is a young man of far-ranging interests and a relatively short attention span. He announced that stop-motion animation would be his life’s work and so far in the subsequent year he has stayed true to that promise. As a follow-up to the class the instructors provided documentation on how to set up a stop-motion rig of your own at home – we did, and while the intensity of its use has waxed and waned we have not regretted taking the time to set it up. His future career in stop-motion animation is not likely to get us that retirement home on Hawaii but it makes him happy, which is all we really want.

When we were signing up for camps this year there was no question we would be going back to Coyote Central. We of course returned for the stop-motion animation class taught by the same remarkable instructors, Web Crowell and Clyde Petersen, who are very calm and laid back on the surface but manage to not only teach a group of kids several different processes of animation but also get them to complete impressive projects in only a week’s time. I know if I were trying to accomplish the same thing I would be pulling my hair out on the first day.

Our son actually planned ahead for the class. Knowing they would be storyboarding on the first day he mapped out his production and came in with his storyboards already drawn up. In addition, he started building props and models with clay we had at home. It was a good thing too, because the James Bond parody he filmed was epic in its scope. Not only did he complete it but he also threw together a short film that contained dialogue translated into five or six languages. When that kind of creativity and enthusiasm comes bursting forth far be it from me to stand in the way.

Next week is the climactic sleepover camp for both kids on Orcas Island at Camp Orkila. The traditional summer camp experience in all its glory. Following that is a quiet return to Coyote Central for Cartoon Drawing American Style before the summer is over and we return to school.

Our daughter, who will be old enough to start attending Coyote Central next summer, can hardly restrain her enthusiasm. She’s had some great camp experiences this year but I don’t know how they will be able to compete with Fashion – Design + Sew or making her own jewelry. Who knows, perhaps she’ll find her life’s calling as well.

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