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Rutherford Camp Cartooning Counselor Is 15

Aidan McHugh, 15, is Rutherford Recreation's resident cartoonist Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero
Self portrait Photo Credit: COURTESY: Aidan McHugh
One of Aidan's paintings Photo Credit: COURTESY: Aidan McHugh
Aidan shows off his students' artwork Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero

RUTHERFORD, N.J.– The junior camp counselor picked up a piece of chalk and began drawing on one of the brick walls of Washington School in Rutherford.

As 15-year-old Aidan McHugh went about his work, he was approached by the camp director, Jill Budunich – not to reprimand but to compliment him.

"I feel drawing is the most versatile, free, creative thing you can do," Aidan said.

Budunich selected the teen to lead a cartooning elective inside the gym for first-through-fourth-grade campers.

Aidan provides pencils and gets the rest of the supplies from the school's art room.

"He sits side by side with the kids," Budunich said. "He gives them a mini-lesson. They love it. They're really relating to him."

Each class, which runs from 45 minutes to an hour, is different, Aidan said.

Sometimes he's providing step-by-step instructions. Other times he's watching the campers draw and color. Then there's the days he takes requests to draw superheroes or King Arthur and tells a story.

"It's fun to be able to show them a whole new experience," said Aidan, who attends Bergen County Technical High School in Teterboro. "It's a lot more fun when it's interactive."

More campers have signed up for the elective, which Aidan will continue to lead, Budunich said.

"It's contagious," she said, jokingly.

Drawing helps Aidan relax, express himself -- and pass time, he said. He doodles in his notebooks and on his tests while in school.

"It's pleasing that he has an opportunity to find himself," said his mother, Melissa. "He fell into it. It's something that can answer his intelligence and his love for art."

Her son's first creation was a blue pencil drawing on the wall of their home – when he was a year old.

The chalk drawing has since faded, but Aidan's passion hasn't: He's studying commercial art and wants to become an animator.

"I want to see where it will take me, where it can evolve," he said.

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