Sweetgrass basket camp helps tradition live on

Image by flickr user designatednaphourImage by 20080715basket.jpg Sweetgrass baskets are probably one of the biggest items you can find here in Charleston, costing upwards of $100 for one of good quality.

Creative Spark in Mount Pleasant is hosting a five-week summer camp on sweetgrass basketweaving, helping preserve one of the great Lowcountry traditions by passing it on to the younger generation. The camp was the brainchild of the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association, and they hope to make it an annual event.

From NBC News 2:

Thomasena Stokes-Marshall is the project director. She says, "We feel that there is a need to work to preserve the art form. Ultimately as our older folks pass on, so will the art form. I think it's too precious, it's history, it's woven into the fabric of our nation, to just let it go like that."

Fourteen-year-old Trent Washington says, "If you first start out its really hard, but then once you get use to it, it gets easier." Twelve-year-old Camille Bibb says, "It's fun, better than I thought it would be. Popped a few stitches, but it's ok. It's a part of my history, it's a part of me."

From Creative Spark:

The Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association (SCAFA) will operate a Sweetgrass Basket Makers Summer Camp. The camper will learn the sweetgrass basket making art form and its history. Additional activities will include instruction in African American Quilt making, field trips to the Avery African American Research Institute and other historical locations. Campers will be exposed to a variety of activities designed to promote team building, socialization skills, and artistic and creative growth to help improve their potential for success. Exposure will be delivered through Storytelling & Poetry, Gospel Songs (including Gospel Rap). Daily exercise will be delivered via Praise Dance and African Drumming & Dance sessions.

The camp is open to to kids age 8 to 13. The cost is $50 per week, and scholarships are available, though unfortunately there's only one session left, which is Monday, July 21. For more info, you can call (843) 856-9732 or (843) 881-3780.

And if you want to know more about sweetgrass basketweaving, here's an ETV video via YouTube: