Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Columbia turned their summer camp into Harry Potter's school of witchcraft and wizardry, Hogwarts. Gail Dawson is the Headmistress of the summer camp, and goes by the name Demelza Moonacre. She says putting it together was not as hard as it may look.
"When you have something as popular as Harry Potter, there is no end of resources to help you decorate," Dawson said. "Our community here at the UUCC is full of creative, energetic people and the wonders they can do with cardboard and table cloth can transform these hallways into a magical school."
The day started with the kids going through Diagon Alley. Afterwards, they were separated into one of four houses by the sorting hat: Windhorse, Pheonix Fire, Stone Dragon, and Sea Majesty.
"When the sorting hat goes on their head and suddenly he spews out all these things about them they didn’t know he knew about them, they're sorted into these groups of students they might not have met before. It's really amazing," she said.
Professor Petuli, or Stephanie Palmer-Smith, says she loves seeing the kids' reactions.
"Watching the kid's faces here is just amazing," Palmer-Smith said, "they think they're performing magic with some of the things we do here with them."
The camp stays true to the movies, with games like Quidditch and classes like Potions, Herbology, and Care of Mythical Creatures. Dawson says the curriculum of the wizarding world ties in with the principles they regularly teach their students.
"Even though it goes under the guise of 'care of magical creatures,' who wouldn’t want to care for the creatures of this earth?" she asks. "Under 'potions,' who doesn’t love how things come together and make something magical explode? So all of these classes, although they appear to have all of this 'wizarding' magic, a lot of them are rooted in our very core beliefs of faith, love, hope, and peace."
And the "magic" they do is realistic.
"Professor Zimblebrew has a chemistry background and is doing some real magic with these children," Palmer-Smith said. "Our headmistress Gail Dawson also works with the Carolina wildlife, and so she does our magical creatures class."
They say the best part, though, is being able to bring people together, young and old.
"Magic lives in the hearts of all of us, adults and kids," Dawson said. "Across ages, across any sort of demographics, everyone has been involved in it so really it does make for a magical combination."