During July’s Wiscasset Art Walk, Rick Burns of Wiscasset makes cajóns while a group of Houston campers stops by to watch. Wiscasset Art Walk photo

If serendipity is a happy accident, an unexpected but delightful adventure, then young visitors to July’s Wiscasset Art Walk had many serendipitous moments.

During July’s WAW evening, Jim Doble from Union and Rick Burns of Wiscasset were hand-making percussion instruments under tents on the sidewalk. Steve Almasi, a percussion player, was setting up his cajón, a Peruvian box drum, nearby. At that moment, a group of boys in brightly colored tie-dyed T-shirts came sauntering by, clearly watchful for something energetic to do. Almasi  invited the boys to play his cajón and after his 20-second demonstrations, the boys stepped up, one by one, to give it a try. Bystanders were awed by these zestful kids as they encouraged and applauded each other’s musical daring, according to a news release from Lucia Droby, art walk coordinator.

The 12 campers, aged 8 through high school, are from Houston and were on a summer camping trip to Wiscasset with Camp Serendipity. Their local base of operation was Winter’s Gone Farm, the Wiscasset home of Jan Flowers, who, with the support of husband Larry and other colleagues, founded the Texas camp nearly 20 years ago.

Before retiring in 2019 and moving to Wiscasset, Jan had taught at a private school for children with learning differences. And during the summers, she began taking them on trips. Jan explained that there were two essentials needed to prepare for success. It was very important to know the parents, she said, and have their trust. She would explain to parents that their children would be working hard, sleeping in tents, helping to cook, and keeping their spaces clean — no coddling. For the campers, she would set expectations from the beginning of the adventure by letting them know “this is how we act, and this is what we expect of you.” She found from experience that if she provided the instruction they needed to be successful, they would rise to expectations. And the results, consistently, were that the campers deepened friendships, gained confidence in their abilities, and had fun.

Anotheraspect to this saga is that Jan’s earliest helpers were her nieces and nephews who accompanied her on the camping trips. Now, they are adults and are carrying on the Serendipity trips from Houston with the Flowers’ home in Wiscasset as one of their destinations.

When Jan thinks about the many camping trips she’s planned and the many campers she’s gotten to know, she says with pride that some of these young people “are going to make a difference in the world because they think outside the box.” Even if they have learning differences now, she says, they are able to look for unexpected solutions, and that, along with constant encouragement, will help them know their own strengths. Wiscasset Art Walk was a small but happy stop on their journey.

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At the next Wiscasset Art Walk planned for 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, the cajón and other percussion instruments will be on the village sidewalks for visitors to play and make their own serendipitous moments.

Wiscasset Art Walk 2022 is made possible by the generosity of Lead Sponsors Donna and Frank Barnako and Major Sponsors Ames True Value, Big Barn Coffee, BIRCH Home Furnishings & Gifts, Bradbury Art & Antiques, Carriage House Gardens, First National Bank, Fogg and Dalton Art Restoration, Industrial ME, J. Edward Knight Insurance, Newcastle Realty, Ozias, Peter Eaton at the Lilac Cottage, Red’s Eats, Rock Paper Scissors, and Sherri Dunbar/Tim Dunham Realty. Additional sponsor support comes from Cod Cove Inn.

For more information about Wiscasset Art Walk, visit wiscassetartwalk.org or email [email protected]. Wiscasset Art Walk is a program of Wiscasset Creative Alliance.

 

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