Day in the life at our Vermont Camp
Our first week focusses on theater games, singing, rehearsals, and some art. The second week has lots of show and rehearsal time as we get ready for our performances.
First week of camp
Each camper is greeted when they arrive with their choice of a handshake, hug, high five, or hello. Campers have a few minutes to get ready, put their things away, and chat with other campers and staff. Campers and parents can check the posted day's schedule to see what is happening that day.
We then launch into ~15-30 minutes of theatrical warm-ups, singing exercises, and theater games. These are typically led by a pair of our camp counselors. Students will get to exercise their voices through tongue-twisters, projection exercises, and singing games. We'll move our bodies through stretches, exercises, and movement games; and we'll work with others through different theater games. After this we are ready to go for the day!
Theater Workshops (two during the course of the morning)
The first week of camp we:
- work to exercise and enhance each camper's theatrical expression
- bring the campers together into a cohesive team, and
- get to know and rehearse the show for camp The Princess and the Pauper
In some workshops we'll do a variety of theatrical activities, games, and exercises to see what theater can be and have FUN! If you were a fly on the wall, one moment you might see us all practicing our sneaky walks; another a group exercise in pairs, where one person (acting) is trying to persuade the other to do something outlandish (we give them the topic)--then we ask them to do it again in a made-up foreign language.
The Princess and the Pauper has a lot of parts to work on, so the first week we will typically split our camp group up: for example, the assistant director and a counselor might work with a group of younger students on the Ruffian Song and the Knight's scene, while the director and a counselor work with some of the leads on the scene where the princess and the pauper first switch roles. In addition, occasionally a counselor or pair of counselors works with a small group or a few individuals on a scene: run their lines, work on expression, and try out different movements for the scene.
A supportive environment
All the while, we seek to build trust and camaraderie in our group. Through careful mentoring, positive encouragement of each camper's contributions, leading by example via our staff, and trust-building theater exercises, we create an environment where each camper's individual ideas and expression are supported in an open, caring way.
If negative or overly-critical language should come up, the staff (and sometimes other campers) are ready to invite other ways of communicating those messages. Example: one camper thinks another is acting differently than what she'd like to see happen in the play, and says,
- "You're not doing that character right, you're messing it up!"
Sometimes the person who has said something like this immediately realizes her message came out in a way that can be hard to hear, and will rephrase it herself. If she does not, or is not aware that what she said could have been put in a way that is more supportive, a staff member, using age-appropriate techniques, will help her find a way to channel the heart of her message in a manner that is more respectful and helpful, such as
- "I had an idea for the outlaw in that scene--would you like to hear it?" then, (if she gets a 'yes,')
- "Maybe the outlaw could act really nervously--I was thinking as he holds his sword, it starts quivering, and he can't stop it!"
---You can read past testimonials of children's experiences here
Recess / Breaks
We work and play hard at theater camp, and it is nice to have some unstructured time in the day! After the first theater workshop (typically around 10:45 am) we have a break for a snack and some quick outside time. Lunch is another time to unwind, followed by a time for students to be outside (supervised), take short walks, chat, relax, and/or play games. Sometimes our counselors will have activities the campers are invited to participate in.
Afternoon art/craft & movement workshops
We do a lot of theater work in the two morning workshops, and for most campers, we have an art, craft, or similar workshop in the afternoon to help balance the day. Leads (certain students aged 12-14) will typically continue to do theater work in the afternoon, though depending on the rehearsal schedule they will sometimes get to take part in the art or movement activity, or at least a portion of it.
All Ages: Second Half of Camp
The second half of camp we focus on rehearsals for our end-of-camp performance. Using all the theater skills we've learned as well as the rehearsal times we've already put in, we're ready to make our show shine!
The basic structure of the day is very similar to the first half of camp:
- Morning Greeting / Warm-ups
- Morning rehearsals
- Lunch & Recess
- Afternoon rehearsals
However, our structured morning snack/recess break is only for the 7-11 year olds; and depending on the rehearsal schedule, sometimes it is as early as 10:30, sometimes as late as 11:00 or 11:15. Our 12-14 year olds eat their snacks and take breaks as needed and dependent on their individual rehearsal schedule.
Occasionally the staff will work with several students during the official lunch/recess time; if that happens, those students will be given a lunch break either immediately before or after the usual lunch time.
As we get closer to the performance dates, we add layers that enhance our show:
- props and/or sets
- make-up (dress rehearsal only)
Then we're ready to give it our all for our two end-of-camp performances, for which parents, siblings, relatives, and friends are encouraged to attend, to cheer on and support our campers--and see what we trust will be an amazing show.