Before July fades into August, I’d like to offer belated thanks to Bob and Doris McConnell for hosting our own little Fourth of July neighborhood party.

I suppose if we lived in an urban area, it would be called a block party. Out here, however, homes are a bit more separated; often you may see the neighbor living next to you, or across the street, but some time can pass before you run into those living a quarter-mile away. So it was a great chance to meet a couple of new neighbors and renew acquaintances with those we haven’t seen in months.

The McConnells provided drinks, ice cream, watermelon and that all-American entree, the hot dog. Everyone else brought a dish, and we all sat down to eat in their large garage at picnic tables covered with red-checked cloths. The food was great — yummy baked beans, green salad with fresh tomatoes, pasta salad, potato salad and, of course, pie and cake! It always amazes me, without those involved conferring ahead of time, how potluck suppers can end up with so much variety.

Afterward, we had up-front seats for a fireworks display fired off by Waldo Hernandez, Bob McConnell Jr. and his son, Jesse. The fireworks were long, loud and beautiful with hardly a break in the show. You would have thought they were professionals. Thanks, McConnells, for helping to continue a great tradition that exemplifies pride in our national heritage.

Now, we’re into the dog days of summer — the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer — and if you have kids at home, they are probably driving you crazy with all that pent-up energy they normally would unleash on their teachers and school friends. Here is an excellent solution. Starting today through Saturday, Aug. 9, artCentral, 1110 E. 13th St. in Carthage, is opening its summer art camp. Seven talented artists will guide your kids’ craziness into creative channels they will enjoy without even realizing they are getting nuggets of art education tucked in along the way.

Sally Armstrong, artCentral’s director, has done a fantastic job of gathering instructors with a broad range of interests and abilities. Three are new to the art camp staff. Martha Goldman, of Joplin, has a fine-arts degree from the University of Kansas and works in two- and three-dimensional multimedia. Her “Wearable Warhol” class, in which children design art they can wear, is already full. She also is teaching “Manga Mania,” focusing on Japanese comic book-style art by past and present-day artists, soft-sculpture sewn creations, and memory shadow boxes.

Other new artists are Sean Fitzgibbon, who has a master’s in fine arts from the University of Arkansas, and Megan Hudson, an art student at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin and the summer intern at artCentral. Fitzgibbon teaches classes on comic-book illustration, collage, and a class on surrealism and perspective using the work of Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico and Rene Magritte. Hudson will teach classes in abstract expressionism in the style of Jackson Pollock, contemporary shape art, and the crafts of Japanese origami and Chinese lantern-making.

Returning teachers include Anne-Marie Gailey, who has taught art in Webb City and Carl Junction. Gailey will teach “Project Insect,” which involves drawing, painting and sculpting unique and beautiful insects, and “Young Illustrators Studio,” in which students design large theater posters or sculptures of their favorite story or characters. Her daughter, Andrea Land, is returning from California to explore the sculptures, mobiles and paintings of Alexander Calder’s circus world, and the colorful, fantasy works of Belgian artist Magritte.

Also back this year are Cheryl Church-Saving, a Carthage High School art instructor, and Randy Wright, a former art teacher at Columbian Elementary. Church will teach basic skills in wheel-throwing pottery, a class in intricately patterned Ukrainian egg painting and “My Face,” the sculpting of clay masks. Wright will show students how to design and make tile mosaics with broken ceramics or stones. She also offers a class in turning fish, bird and butterfly creations into mobiles.

Classes run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and are open to children ages 8 to 14. There is a fee, but Armstrong says generous art patrons have made it possible to provide assistance if students cannot afford the full cost.

Details: Sally Armstrong, (417) 358-4404.

Recommended for you