Summer campers brandished brushes and clustered around canvases yesterday to paint a mural and banners at the Kennedy Recreation Center on Seventh Street NW.

About 15 young people in the recreation center's camp worked with AmeriCorps members and artist Thomas Kinkade on the project, which continues today with volunteers from the National Conference on Volunteering and Service.

The conference on service, taking place at the Washington Convention Center this week, is drawing about 2,400 people, most of whom coordinate volunteer agencies, according to Cindy Vizza, a spokeswoman for the Points of Light Foundation, a sponsor of the event.

At least 250 volunteers from the conference will paint schools and a geriatric center, remove graffiti, plant flowers and create murals today at eight locations in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest Washington, said the foundation's Chris Krinock Davis.

Artists must be "aware that your art is not just about you. It is a chance -- a call -- to serve your community," said Kinkade, who uses his art to help raise funds for service agencies and gives away much of his work for public places. "Art should not be relegated to a dark studio."

At the recreation center, volunteers projected a transparency of the mural Kinkade had designed onto canvas panels. The mural features a farm scene and cornucopia, in keeping with the service project's theme of healthy lifestyles. It will be hung in the center's foyer.

Children crowded around the projection, outlining the forms in black pencil to prepare for painting.

"Any questions?" Kinkade inquired.

"Can I help, too?" asked a child, and Kinkade set him to work on the left corner.

"Any other questions?" Kinkade asked.

"Me, too?" pleaded the littlest boy in the group.

Slowly the fruit, barn, animals and scenery emerged in black and white. One youth methodically shaded the eaves of the barn, while another drew and redrew the lines of the fence.

Meanwhile, AmeriCorps volunteers set up banners with motivational themes for the younger helpers to paint.

There were giant hearts and baseball diamonds, cars at the store and people at home. The smallest boy set to work on a smiling stick figure, adding black paint, then yellow, then green, silent and intent on his work while others began to drift away or chatted.

Artist Thomas Kinkade works with Mark Pope, 9, and Mary Pope, 12, at Kennedy Recreation Center.