Q: Does my kid need theater experience to be in this camp?
A: At Inspirations Camps we strive to welcome students to their next step in theater, wherever they may be on their theatrical path. We welcome students of all backgrounds and confidence levels to achieve something new. For some, that might be speaking in front of an audience for the first time; for others, perhaps someone who has been part of 10+ theatrical productions, this could be really honing one aspect of their dramatic expression, such as becoming accomplished at showing mood without words on the stage. We are happy to have a range of students with a wide variety of theatrical backgrounds at our camp.
Q: Does s/he need to be a singer or have a good voice?
A: At camp we have students who have lots of experience and training with their voice, and those who are just beginning to explore how fun singing can be.
'If you can talk you can sing' --African proverb. Even for the children who can't (or don't think they can) sing, we find ways to engage them in song. As far as their singing and how that pertains to the show we put on, we balance two values.
First, we welcome students of all singing backgrounds and abilities, and invite them to take their next step in singing while at camp, be that holding pitch, singing with more confidence, expanding their range, or bringing dramatic expression while they sing. There are plenty of places in the show these students will be able to enthusiastically (or shyly!) share their singing voices.
Second, for some of the songs that are sung solo or in duets for the show, to ensure that the songs can be most enjoyed by a wide variety of listeners, we have students who have more experience holding melody and pitch sing these songs (though EVERYONE will sing them in our rehearsals).
Q: Why do you have group parts for younger kids, and lead or solo parts for 12-14 year olds (and a few 11 year olds)?
A: Our main motivation for our casting model is pedagogical: we strive to meet each age group with a theater experience that is best for them. 11-14 year olds have begun or are beginning to explore their individualism in the world different than their earlier years. Taking on a larger, strong role in a play can really meet this age group as they balance their budding sense of self. We cast 11-14 year olds in group parts as well, as sometimes that theater experience meets the needs of that particular individual;
For our younger campers: we feel that 10-11 year olds have a certain sophistication and awakening of awareness. We strive to meet this age by giving them both fun group parts and smaller individual roles—a few spoken lines in a street scene here, a short solo or small-group part of a group song there. Our 8-9 year olds, while often quite expressive as individuals, we feel can thrive in group roles onstage, and do not need the spotlight of individual attention at that early age. See Casting for more information.
Q: Why is camp currently open to children aged 8-14 but not for older high school-aged students?
A: We want to give young people a chance to take on roles that challenge and invigorate them. While we feel that our plays are sophisticated enough to be performed by high school-aged students, we have chosen to give our lead roles to 12-14 year old students. All too typically when you have a camp for say ages 8-18, the lead roles go to those aged 16-18. From a performance standpoint, there can be good reason for this: older high-school aged students can bring experience, talent, and sophistication that can be further along than most younger students.
However, having worked with younger students in dramatic productions the past six years, I have seen the incredible array of talent these young people are capable of. Our camps give the students in our age ranges a place to shine that might have been harder for them to find in a theater camp that also had older high school-aged students. That said, we celebrate our neighboring theater camps (both in Portland and Vermont) that give older high school students and younger ones theater opportunities, and we are happy that parents and students can choose from an array of camps to find one that will be the right fit for their child.
All that said, in 2016 and 2017 we are considering exploring offerings for those who are 15 or 16. Check our website in early 2016 for developments as they come.
Q: Why do the camp performances have variable orchestrations, or sometimes just piano?
A: We enjoy making this a community production, which means tapping into the local talent wherever we are putting on the theater camp. We may not know until ~2 months before camp begins that one parent volunteer plays the bassoon, and would love to be part of the orchestra; or that half a block down from our camp lives a retired high school band teacher, and has offered her talents playing flute. Hence, our orchestra could be 3 people or 10; we could have 4 saxophonists show up who we somehow put to use, or we find creative use for a part-time ukelele player. Occasionally we have camp (student) participants join the orchestra for a song or two as well!
Happily, our orchestration works fine if we are only using piano; and since we usually keep things uncomplicated by not using mics / amplification at camp for our actors, a smaller orchestra (or piano only) is often all we need to support the singer on stage. See our volunteer positions for the camp in Portland Oregon or Vermont for more on orchestra positions.
Q: What if I can't come through with a volunteer service I agreed to do for camp?
A: When you sign up to volunteer, the camp and the campers are counting on you for that position. If something unforeseen comes up that prevents you from fulfilling a volunteer agreement you have made, you have three options.
- You can find someone who can help in the ways you had agreed to
- You can find a different way to fulfill your agreement, perhaps in a different role.
- You can find another creative way to help camp, either during this session or in the future.
Q: What is the camp Electronics / Media policy?
At Inspirations Camps we are here for theater and each other, not for the Internet, computer games, or phone calls.
We strive to create an atmosphere where students are engaged with our theatrical activities, present with their fellow campers and staff, and aware of themselves and their inner moods as they explore their theatrical expression. While we value alone time, reflection, and our students' need to unwind while at camp, we find that electronics and other media bring an atmosphere that is at odds with the goals we strive for in our time together here.
Although people use electronics and media in different ways, we have found that some can use them to isolate themselves, escape, or create cliques (certain people at camp 'allowed' to see certain content, or play certain games, while others are excluded). During camp sessions we want all students engaged with themselves, with each other, or with the theatrical activity at hand: being on a cell phone or playing a computer game do not support that goal. During our breaks we want our students to either enjoy each other's company or one of a variety of healthy reflection / rejuvenation activities, including outside play, games, and/or artwork / journaling--or just some time to oneself, perhaps reading. We believe that this array of options available during our breaks serve to balance our other activities at camp in ways that are healthy and socially inclusive.
EMERGENCY / NECESSARY CONTACT EXCEPTION
We realize that on certain days, communication between campers and their parents and/or people who are picking them up is necessary. For example, a child may be dropped off at camp but the parent still needs to work out who is picking them up, and when; and that parent needs a way to leave a message with the child during the day, or communicate live / in real-time with their child sometime during the camp day.
For this situation, we allow students to bring a cell-phone (or computer, if absolutely necessary) to camp that day. The camper will check the device in with a staff member when they arrive at camp, letting that staff member know what that day's needs are for communication, and the likely timing. The staff member will then place the electronics device in a locked container for the camp day. When the student needs the device at the agreed upon time(s), the staff member will retrieve the device; after the student is finished using it, they will return it to the staff member to put back in the box. When the student's pick-up person has arrived, or the student is ready to depart camp, s/he will be able to retrieve their electronic item.
Q: What is your staffing at camp?
A: Inspirations Camps have a full-time camp director plus three-five additional staff, depending on enrollment.
The staff lead, or assist in leading singing workshops, acting classes, theater games, and theatrical warm-ups. At most camps, staff also direct one or more scenes in the play. As we get closer to the performance, the staff help on anything from running lines with a student to one-on-one dramatic coaching, and various types of stage help such as lighting and sets. Depending on enrollment, we have anywhere from 3-6 total staff at camp.
Finally, we have part-time staff leading workshops such as art, clowning, or specialized classes on acting or singing.
You can meet our staff at Staffing