That One Time at Stage Camp
I loved theatre camp! Well, I have never ACTUALLY attended theatre camp, but I supervised one for six summers. With a background in theatre, I approached the four to eight weeks I spent with 8-13 years old with the seriousness of a Fortune 500 CEO!
My first summer with the camp was during their inaugural year. Soon after I received the charge to lead the camp, I began ordering scripts, creating a rehearsal calendar, and planning site visits to theatres throughout the city.
The theatre camp would become my divine instruction into a life of service.
I was rigid the first summer. The campers MUST audition and know the first act of the play by the middle of the second week. They MUST be completely off-book by the end of the third week and READY to perform in the presence of their families by the end of the fourth.
Then the campers got to me. At the end of the first summer, I saw them. Like truly saw them. It was as if I got a chance to really look into their eyes and see that the campers had lost something. I would learn that they had lost part of their innocence because the camp was structured in a way that lacked play. Theatre is fun and it requires discipline effort, but these campers didn't need to grow up so fast. They could be "adults" later.
It was then that I realized I could not run this summer camp as basic training for the stage. My goal shifted from training disciplined thespians to assessing the camper’s developmental needs and inviting play into the curriculum. We swam each week. We took full advantage of recess as well as the full advantage of rehearsal. Each week, they learned how to work hard AND play hard. By the end of the future summers, everyone shed a tear from such a magical experience!
As we prepare to launch the second book from VK Press, I am reminded of those six summers of stage camp. Like the camp, the publishing process has not been easy yet I experienced a similar shift in my perspective. My objective went from having specific goals for the success of the book to simply enjoying the journey. I felt the same determination to make the future author’s dreams come true as I did when I saw that young person who needed to be seen on that stage: with both expectation and wonder!