Griffis_article_pic1By Alicia Dziak

Griffis Hill Gardens is a place where nature, education and creativity collide. This formerly undeveloped section of Griffis Sculpture Park has become a place for kids to artistically express themselves, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Founder/Executive Director Carley Hill, and Administrative Director Thomas Vannatter, who have developed a unique lineup of workshops for youth.

“We wanted our workshops to be different, and to continue to represent the intersection of art and nature,” said Vannatter.

Fly a Kite, offered the third Saturday of every month, teaches participants how to build various types of kites from ordinary materials. Students create their own colorful fabric kite, and are encouraged to take their time painting it to suit their individual tastes. While the paint dries, they can play in and around the nearby sculptures, then return to fly their kite in the field.

“I really liked being able to make a kite with my own design,” said Haylee Cerrone, 10, of Springville, who recently attended the kite making workshop. “I also thought the instructors were really helpful and nice.”

“The kite making workshop was a unique activity in a beautiful location,” said Zachary Cudney, 14, of Springville.

“It was a fun experience.  I learned how to actually make a kite,” added Zachary’s brother, Nathan, age 10.

Cross-Country Orienteering is a competitive treasure hunt event that will be offered in the fall. Participants, as part of a small team, will use a compass to navigate the park and identify specific points of interest on a map, and the first team to return with a token from each point wins a prize.

Youth Painting Workshops for children ages seven and up teach students the basics of outdoor painting.

Moss Magic teaches youth about the forest floor through hands-on experiences, helping to expand the beds of moss carpeting. During this workshop, children will learn all about the power of mud and the growth it supports.

In addition, a story hour is offered free of charge every second Sunday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Storytelling takes place in the newly developed Sacred Grove outdoor classroom. To get there, follow the driveway from the Mill Road parking lot, up the hill and past the house. Follow the signs, and the classroom will be on your left.

Other inexpensive activities include numerous movie screenings, held at dusk throughout the summer at the main stage for only $2 admission. Bring a blanket and some snacks, snuggle up with the kids under the stars, and enjoy some classics on the big screen. Upcoming movies include “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” on July 27, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” on August 17.

Besides the variety of youth workshops currently listed on the Griffis Hill Gardens website, new programs are continually being developed.

“Each season we’ll be offering different types of workshops that are relevant to the season and have an environmental focus,” Hill explained. “For instance, in winter, we’ll be offering snow sculpture and snowshoeing.”

Although many workshops are scheduled on specific days, the Griffis staff is more than willing to accommodate private groups. Scout outings, birthday parties, or any kind of get-togethers are perfect opportunities to learn something new while taking in the wonderful surroundings of Griffis Hill Gardens and Griffis Sculpture Park. Private workshops can be scheduled by contacting

Workshops can also be combined with cabin rentals to create a one-of-a-kind experience for children and their families.

With so many ways to let kids unleash their inner creative self, why not take advantage of these refreshingly fun workshops, led by very friendly and knowledgeable instructors, all just minutes from Ellicottville and Springville. Combine it with a hike through the Sculpture Park and you can make a day of it!

For more information, or to register for any of the workshops, visit or email