Students in kindergarten through eighth grade have been cultivating their Renaissance skills this summer at Camp Wilkinson as they engage in art, science and sport. 

Last week, students gathered at Wilkinson School in El Granada. As whales danced in the waters across the way, the kids learned to weave baskets inspired by indigenous crafting techniques. 

“The kids are really creative,” said Head of School Sherrie Paregian, who led the activity. “I just allowed them to explore.”

The students took full advantage, getting crafty with their designs.

“I’m just going with what I think looks good. I chose blue beads because it’s my favorite color,” said 13-year-old Sara Douty, nimbly working with colors that reflected the not-so-distant sea and sky. “It might look really complicated but it’s actually really easy when you get the hang of it.”

This is one workshop out of 10 in the first Camp Wilkinson lineup. 

In the past, Wilkinson School offered summer film workshops. Paregian wanted to re-imagine what a summer program might offer.

“We had a bit of a revival. I thought, ‘Hey. Let’s create a camp experience for all the coastal kids, something with a variety,’” Paregian said. “I thought that this way we could offer something for everyone.”

In keeping with its roots, the camp, which is open to any child — not just Wilkinson students — kicked off with a film workshop, but then went on to include chess and soccer. 

In August, students will have the chance to learn how to cook, perform magic, bind books and make paper.

Paregian said that she was inspired to lead the basket-weaving activity based on a similar one she had done as a child at summer camp.

“We actually did it in the river and let our reeds soak in the water. It was really neat. I remember it all these years later,” Paregian said.

Under Paregian’s guidance, students soaked reeds in a small, blue plastic pool, and used the newly pliable elements to weave in and out of decorative beads on small wooden bases in the shapes of squares, circles and ovals.

“I’ll tell you why I enjoy it,” 7-year-old Athena Dogadkin said. “You get to put your hands in the water.”

“A water sprite, like me,” Douty interjected.

“It’s fun,” Dogadkin added. “And you can use the baskets for all different things.”

“You can use them to hold earrings, bouncy balls, berries …” Douty suggested. 

Sculpting new shapes and imagining new uses, they were just beginning to see the possibilities of their creations.

To sign up for Camp Wilkinson, visit or call 726-4582.  

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