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Summer Camp at Once Upon A Dish

A place where youngsters can display their artistic talents.

To some of us, especially adults, summer camp may evoke images of sports, board games and singing around the camp fire. But for younger people, camps today can run the gamut from SAT preparation to, well, pottery making.

At Once Upon A Dish, located at 659 Franklin Avenue in Garden City, summer camp means using one's artistic talents to create something unique – be it bird houses or beautiful mosaics.

"We wanted to have something for the children to do in the summer, but something different than the usual summer camp," said owner and operator Sophia Chrissafis Muhr.

The camp runs May 20 to Aug. 20, and no two days are alike. Activities for the three-month camp differ by the day as well as the week, and can include anything from painting dinner plates to doing self-portraits.

On a recent Friday visit, it was paint your sneakers day. Campers were asked to bring in a pair of white sneakers. Staffer Kara Ciccone of Garden City (now a student at Emory University) was there to teach youngsters to make fashion statements out of their sneakers.  

Muhr said she likes to change things up. If you attended camp the same week last year and returned for the same week this year, chances are you would not encounter the same class.   

If you attended camp last week, it went something like this: On Monday, campers painted a glass vase using stamps and other tricks; on Tuesday youngsters created Origami wallets; on Wednesday, children created mosaic mirrors; on Thursday, they made friendship bracelets using beads and colored string.

Based on previous enrollment, the most popular class is self-portraits, Muhr said, in which children paint on a canvas. "This is a true work of art," Muhr said of the class. "Seeing how children view themselves, and capturing this on canvas, is a must."

Summer camps are nothing new at Once Upon A Dish, which has run them since the studio first opened over 12 years ago. The difference now is that more campers are attending. "Enrollment is very strong," Muhr said. "July was a little slow because I think a lot of residents were taking their vacations, but August is full blown."

Parents can send their children to camp for one day ($26) or for the entire week ($125). Sessions run from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Children in the 6 to 9 year old group are the most common.

The summer camp is one of many activities at Once Upon A Dish, which has hosted everything from bachelorette parties to corporate events, bridal showers, baby showers, and the most common, birthday parties. There are also Adult Nights where visitors can bring with them their favorite bottle of wine and put their artistic talents to work. One favorite is the Margarita Glass Painting class.

"It's really a fun place to come, relax and forget about work for a day," Muhr said. And for kids, it's a fun place to just be a kid, she noted. "The children, seeing their faces when they come in here; that's the best part."

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