Day In the Life—Vermont Camp
Quick overview of the camp experience
Each day is an adventure at Inspirations Camps. We play drama games, sing songs, create skits, and rehearse towards our end-of-camp performance. We also balance the theater work we do with art, movement, and play.
During the first week of camp, each morning we start out as one big group for warm-ups and drama games, and usually focus on big-group number rehearsals until the morning break. Actors not in those scenes either enjoy watching or are taken out for one-on-one or small group coaching by camp staff. In the second morning session, we often separate into age-appropriate theater workshops, rehearsals, and activities. For the second week of camp we are typically combined as one large group working on our performance.
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 can check the posted day's schedule to see what is happening that day. Some campers take this time to run a few quick lines with each other.
Warm-ups / Theater Games / full-camp rehearsals
We then launch into ~15-30 minutes of theatrical warm-ups, singing exercises, and theater games led by our camp staff. Students will get to exercise their voices through tongue-twisters, projection exercises, and singing games. We'll move our bodies through stretches, exercises, and games. After this we are ready to go for the day!
The first week of camp we devote a portion of our morning sessions to
- exercising and enhancing each camper's theatrical expression
- bringing the campers together into a cohesive team
- getting to know the show for camp, and
We'll do a variety of theatrical activities, games, and exercises to see what theater can be, and have fun doing it. 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. You also might see us exploring how we move when we're feeling hot, cold, or itchy; or see the kids playing a game where they get to practice being the Best or Worst ____ in the world (waitstaff, zookeeper, cook, etc.)
After that we might rehearse a few of our big-group or full-cast scenes from the play involving all the ages, and this will typically take us into the morning break for snack and some recess / movement time.
recess / break
We work and play hard at theater camp, and it is nice to have some unstructured time in the day! At the close of the first session (typically around 10:45 am) we have a break for a snack and some quick outside time for games, exercise, a short walk, chatting, or other creative play.
We now divide into two groups. Depending on the day, the younger students might have continued drama games, rehearse the scenes and songs from the play, or create their own drama skits that they later share with the larger group.
The older students will typically sub-divide into pairs, trios, and small groups to rehearse various scenes from the play or attend workshops designed to bolster their theater skills. For example, sometimes we invite all the campers into some brainstorming exercises for a scene in our play: say a character has a secret and is feeling pressure to share it. How might she carry herself in this situation? How would she walk and talk? What might be going on in her head, and how might this come out in her expressions? The best ideas for our performances can come from these sessions, as sometimes the group finds ideas for the character or scene that are amazing fits.
This takes us to lunch, where after our hard morning's work we enjoy a nice, long break from structure. We get to go outside, play, socialize, or read, either on the Chelsea town green or other playgrounds nearby.
We've found that after a half-day of theater, for many students an afternoon art activity gives a good balance to the theater work. In the art space there's room for chatty social time as well as more inward reflection, depending on the individual child's mood that day.
Students will get to choose among a few electives each afternoon. They can join the art activity (and many do!), they can attend a theatrical workshop given by one of our staff, they can work on a creative skit / improv drama production, or they can continue rehearsals of certain scenes. Although they will be free to pick their activity each day, sometimes the staff will ask certain individuals to rehearse a scene or work on a song during part of the elective time.
second week of camp
The second half of camp all campers come together to focus on shared 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. However, afternoons are either devoted to rehearsals or special activities, determined by the camp staff as camp progresses to find the best fit for our group.
- Morning Greeting / Warm-ups
- Morning rehearsals
- Lunch & Recess
- Afternoon rehearsals
As we get closer to our performance, on certain days there might not be a formal morning snack-time, and students will take their snacks as the rehearsals allow. 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.
Soon into the second week we begin to add
- props and/or sets
- make-up (dress rehearsals 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.
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 phrased in a more supportive fashion, a staff member 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 head minister in that scene--would you like to hear it?" then, (if she gets a 'yes,')
- "I thought it might be interesting to try having him acting really nervously in that scene, maybe pacing around, or wringing his hands as he talks; it would be a neat contrast to the scene before when he was acting really confidently."
camp comes to an end for the year
It's amazing how close a group can become in just a few short weeks when we're playing, working, and laughing together each day, while all putting our best towards a wonderful community production. As our last show finishes, we say our farewells--at least, until next year!--and return home with a great feeling of satisfaction of a job well done, friends made, and memories for a lifetime.