A family plays together at Talent Night during family week. Photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts
A family plays together at Talent Night during family week. Photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts

The Idyllwild Arts Summer Program returns from June into August with its traditional array of the familiar, the new, the challenging and this year, some retrospection. The Summer Program has classes, activities and workshops for the whole family — kids to adults. And the week of June 20 to 26 focuses on the whole family.

Beginning Monday, June 29, the Children’s Center and Junior Artist Center offer classes in dance, filmmaking, piano and more.

Getting a jump on the summer, the adult program opens June 14 with two weeks for both Hot Clay and Metals.

“I’m always excited about Metals week,” said Heather Companiott, director, Adult Arts Center and Native American Arts Program. “There are six new topics each year.”

The traditional Native American Arts Festival runs from June 28 to July 4. While there are many familiar activities, such as basketry and pottery, this year features native foods and culminates with Idyllwild Chef on Friday, July 3. This will be a cook-off competition highlighting native food.

Three trained chefs will cook and three judges will test their culinary treats, according to Companiott, who said, “[It’s] a food competition with nationally known Native American chefs using all indigenous ingredients from various regions.”

Also new this year is Writers Week, combining fiction, non-fiction and poetry, from July 6 to 10.

“The instructors are all excited about working together with all genres,” she said. “We’re especially pleased to have poet Natalie Diaz, who is a former student in the Native American program.”

The special guests, who will speak and read, during the week are all friends or colleagues of the faculty. And four fellowships will be available this year, two of which are named for Trustee Cheri M. Bentley-Buckman, a poet.

Organizing a program as extensive as offered each summer, contacting and bringing renowned artists to Idyllwild, requires effort and persistence. Companiott is already working on the Summer 2016 program.

“The Summer Program of Idyllwild Arts is known affectionately across the country, and indeed throughout the world,” wrote Pam Jordan, president of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, in an email. “Programs such as the Children’s Center, The Summer Youth Orchestra and Chorus, Family Camp and the Native American Arts Festival are what people have come to admire and respect for decades.”

She hopes that these types of partnerships can be taken to off-campus sites and bring the school’s vision to others throughout the year, not just the two summer months.

In order to infuse excitement and maintain interest, more than half the instructors each year are new, which is one reason more than half the participants have attended previous summer programs.

This summer there will be an effort to honor past traditions and reconnect with people, said Steve Fraider, executive director and vice president of the Summer Program.

Activities, such as a sunset walk to Inspiration Point and morning songs, will be revived. Speakers such as Ernie Silva, a former counselor and part of the program for the last 60 years, and former President Bill Lowman, will make appearances, according to Fraider.

“Throwback Thursday” will be available on the school’s Facebook page. People can send photos from previous summer programs to Megan McIntyre at [email protected].