Kid’s Klub taps into imagination

Erica Larsen-Dockray, founder and director of the Calibraska Arts Initiative, works with North Platte Public Schools Kids Klub Summer Academy students on animation techniques on Wednesday at the “Animation Playground” playground camp at North Platte Community College-South Campus.

Dancing across the stage, working on music, designing and painting skateboard decks and a plethora of other activities stirred the imaginations of students in the North Platte Public School Kids Klub Summer Academy on Wednesday.

Kids Klub collaborated with Jeff Smeltzer, business and community education coordinator at Mid-Plains Community College, to bring the event to North Platte.

“We started working on this three years ago,” said Carrie Lienemann, Kids Klub director. “Jeff came to me and said, we’ve got the camp, you’ve got the kids, let’s get together and do this thing. So here we are, this two-year idea has come to fruition this week.”

Students will work all week and the event will culminate with a recital from 3-4:30 p.m. on Friday at the NPCC South Campus theater.

The camp, “Animation Playground,” is led by Erica Larsen-Dockray, founder and director of the Calibraska Arts Initiative. Started in 2013, Calibraska uses creative connections to bring together individuals in California and Nebraska who might not otherwise interact.

Larsen-Dockray currently teaches and creates animation in Los Angeles and is a Scottsbluff native. She also serves on the advisory council for the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the initiative thrives in large part with funding support from the Johnny Carson Foundation.

“It’s so fortunate for us to find some of the best instructors across the country,” Smelzer said. “Our animators are from Los Angeles, our music instructors are from Denver, ballet is from Omaha/Council Bluffs and our theater instructors are from Iowa.”

Smelzer said Nate Bockus of North Platte, who is nationally known as well, taught a class on skateboard deck painting.

“This is a great collaboration and a wonderul opportunity to show kids some different things, some fine arts things,” Smelzer said.

“The camp was provided with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and we were able to provide the fine arts camp for our students this week,” Lienemann said.

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