camp creat1

Young at Art

Every year during the Christmas School Holidays, Bellingen becomes a hub of creative activity as the iconic Camp Creative takes centre stage. With next years tickets going on sale last month we sat down with Camp Coordinator and local legend Nicole Ruigrok to talk about what’s new and exciting with camp creative 2025.

What: Camp creative
Where: Bellingen
When: 13 - 17 JAN 2025

The 2025 Camp Creative tickets are now on sale – what are some of the courses you’d recommend people snap up before they sell out?
NR: It always amazes me how quickly some of our courses sell out, two sold out on the first night! We have a fantastic new Leatherworking course that only has two spots left. Metal Sculpture and Landscape Painting in Oils, courses taught by two other local legends Colin Dray and Jason Lowe respectively, are almost sold out.  Wet Felt Hat Making was a new course for 2024 which proved very popular, it has now almost sold out for 2025. Other courses to snap up quickly are Beginners Harmonica, Cooking and Botanical Printing.

Held during the school holidays each year it’s easy to see why some people think Camp Creative is just for the kids but there’s also heaps of workshops and courses for the grown ups. Tell us about some of these?
NR: We are really only just building up our offerings for kids, with 66 courses for age 18+, 52 courses for 13 to 17 year olds and only 21 courses for 5 to 12 year olds.. we really are more geared towards adults.  We have such a wide range of offerings for adults from Tarot to Bollywood Dancing and everything in between. There are so many students who even come every year and attend the same course just because they love it so much. Stephen Cassettari our Chinese Brush Painting tutor, has a very loyal following, as does Denise Vanderlugt who teaches Creative Collage. If you prefer something a bit more active, we have two popular drumming classes for adults, African Drumming and Freedrum.  Chinta has been teaching African Drumming with us for more than 20 years.  Kaya Boom is changing up his Samba Soul course to Freedrum for 2025, can’t wait to see his group performance!

Are there any new courses happening in 2025 we should look out for?
NR: We have 28 new courses for 2025 and the standout favourite so far is Skate and Create, this is almost sold out.  This course will be held at The Stables in Bellingen, right near the skate park.  Students will decorate their own skate deck and helmet.  They will then add trucks and wheels to their boards and have lessons at the skatepark, what a cool course! David Mayo is offering an amazing opportunity to make your own beautiful Tahitian Ukulele from scratch, great for people into woodwork. Another great course for kids will be Making a Mini Musical, presented by Hannah of Encore Academy. Kids will spend the week learning their script and put together their own performance to present to the crowd at the end of the week. We have a Meditation and Art Journaling course on offer this year.  This will be a half day course, so a great opportunity to pair it with something like Tarot or Shiatsu and learn two new skills in a week. We have Kade Valja, a graffiti artist based in Grafton, coming along to teach Graffiti and Street Art.  Plus, we have well known cartoonist Jimmy Wags doing a Paint Pen Art course.  So many amazing new things to choose from.

As a mum with a bit of creative flair, what are your top 10 courses and why?
NR: I taught sewing at Camp Creative for 2 years before I became the Camp Creative Coordinator but have never actually had a chance to be a student. There are so many courses that I would love to do though!  I will just have to be satisfied with checking out every course during the week of Camp Creative in the course of my role.  I love to sew, so my first choice is Cut, Paint, Stitch with Caroline Sharkey. I also love creating things by hand, so our new Hand Embroidery course also caught my eye, as well as the Ancient Art of Mending.  I enjoy so many different crafty things so I would like to try Glass on Glass Mosaics, Bookbinding and Ceramic Sculpture. I’ve always wanted to learn Felting, so the Forest Whimsy Felting is right up my alley. Visual arts aren’t usually my thing, but Melanie Dilday’s course Playful Painting really piques my interest. Plus, I would like to do the Screenprinting course. Maybe one year in the future I can hand my role over for a week, just so I can participate in a course!

Any advice for people looking to get in on some Camp Creative action next year?
NR: Number one is to book early so you don’t miss out on your first choice… And don’t leave booking your accommodation to the last minute. Remember that Bellingen gets very hot in January, so please be prepared for that. Check out the website as there is a heap of useful and new information on there. If you’re only going to do a half day course, why not consider volunteering for the rest of the week?  It is a great experience, and we are always looking for more volunteers. Don’t forget that ticket prices include evening events Tuesday through Friday, for an action-packed week. Myself and the Camp Creative team can’t wait to see you there!

What: Camp creative
Where: Bellingen
When: 13 - 17 JAN 2025