By: Emily Krich
This year, marked my 16th summer working at camp, and it never ceases to amaze me how summer camp becomes a second home for so many families. Although the year separates us, we are able to pick right up where we left off just like old friends so easily do. Instantly, memories flood our minds and remind us of the experiences we have had, but more importantly, the times we have had together.
When looking into summer camp opportunities for children many people are looking for specialized programs. Will this program make my child the best soccer player possible? I need the Math Camp that will help my child become a world-class mathematician. Or the best performing arts camp that money can buy, ya know to ensure that my child ends up on Broadway one day. Due to this thinking, the concept of the variety day camp is something that may seem antiquated to some, but in reality, is just a summer program that is all about FUN! But there is this pesky programming note that causes some parents and kids to pause… dun, dun, dun…MUSICAL THEATRE!!!!
Many people wonder why we keep musical theatre in our programming, as not every child wants to be a singer or dancer or even strives to step foot on the stage. However, much like sports and academics, musical theatre is about more than singing and dancing. We have seen it all. The kids who enter the musical theatre room excited to hear what song and dance they will be working on for the big camp show, and then those who come in and hang their head, already envisioning their two left feet moving to the wrong beat or their voice cracking on a particularly challenging note. We do our best to comfort all of our campers and put these fears to rest, and let them know that this is meant to be fun. What you may not know, however, if you poll our campers, that is right even our super cool teens, and ask them what their favorite camp memories are many of them will say…the Camp Show!!
That is right, even those who fight us the most on the singing and dancing front remember these moments the most. You may ask why, and while I cannot speak directly for each child’s experience, I can tell you this. There is nothing like standing on a stage, having fun with your friends, waving a prop, and seeing an audience of people applaud you for your efforts. Think about it and you will see that we are creating an amazing opportunity to build confidence in our campers. If you can stand up on a stage and sing and dance in front of people, you can do anything. More importantly, if you can do it with your friends and have some fun in the process you are bound to create memories that will last a lifetime. On the stage, under the lights, looking out at adoring fans who even if you mess up every step and every word will make you feel like the biggest star in the world, you cannot beat it. It builds character as you step outside of your comfort zone, confidence as you dare to put this part of yourself out there for the audience to see, determination to overcome the voice in your head that says this is scary or not cool, and most importantly instills memories that will last even the most skeptical performer for the rest of their life. So that is why we keep the music going, and we encourage our campers to sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching, and when their moment has ended take a second and enjoy the applause of close to 500 people in the audience. After all, there is nothing like the center stage, spotlights in your eyes, and an audience of adoring fans cheering your accomplishment! So to this, I say…On with the show!