Youngsters attending summer camp at the Aiken County Family YMCA in Graniteville have been turning trash into treasures.


Sergio Gallardo was leading one of the camp's series of art classes Thursday afternoon. Under his supervision, 11 children ranging in age from 6 to 12 worked on projects using items from Aiken's Goodwill retail store. Four participants in the Leader in Training Teen Leadership Program helped Gallardo conduct the class.


“They create things you would never believe they could think of,” said Gallardo, who was wielding a glue gun and offering assistance as the youngsters worked. “Goodwill came to us to see if we could use things that might end up just being thrown away for art projects. Doing this brings out creativity, and it also teaches the campers how to recycle.”


Andrew Bateman, 6, of Aiken, assembled one of the largest and most elaborate projects. He called his creation a “trash battleship.”


Bateman equipped the battleship with a spatula that he said could “shoot cannonballs.” He also explained that the ship was able to haul old toy cars and other items that needed to be discarded.


“It can take trash to the trash dump,” he said.


Mikhail Holt, 13, of Grovetown, Ga., was assisting Gallardo as a Leader in Training, but he also worked on his own project, arranging a group of figurines around a large doll's head.


“It's like a crazy picture,” he said. “It's old-timey, but it's also modern and fun. I have an 18th-century woman and a 21st-century cop. The cop is about to arrest the clown, who has a brick behind his back. But the clown is smiling and saying, 'I ain't done nothing, officer.' The mouse has something behind her back, too.”


Collin Bradley Smith, 8, of Graniteville put together a group of items, including a light switch cover and toy cars, to create what he described as a “Transformer with a cannon.” A candlestick served as the cannon.


“If it was in real life, it would fight evil and protect citizens,” said Smith of his finished project.


Emma Wall, 8, of Graniteville, assembled a ballerina that had a head made out of a glass bowl, rocks for eyes and black yarn for hair. She planned to give her work of art to her 12-year-old sister.


“It looks pretty,” Wall said.


In addition to working on individual projects, the campers are creating sculptures of the Family Y and Goodwill logos from repurposed materials.


Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.