Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer Camp for Theater Kids 5 to 15

Do you have a child who likes to put on plays in the back yard? Someone who recreates numbers from "American Idol" and "Glee"? A child who uses your white tablecloth and the upstairs window to stage either the balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" or the big song from "Evita"?

If you have a child who is itching to release his or her inner actor, actress or performer (or just likes to play Pretend) or you think would benefit from learning to express him or herself, Illinois Wesleyan University is offering three theatrically-inclined summer camps for kids under its Summer on Stage program. All three camps will be held at the E. Melba Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theatre, the same black box theater IWU's School of Theatre uses for about half its shows, located in the McPherson Theatre building at 2 Ames Plaza East on the IWU campus.

Cristen Susong
Cristen Susong, who is herself an amazing singer and actress, will be teaching and leading these theatre summer camps. You may've caught Susong on stage in ISU's "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," where her beautiful singing voice stood out, or in Heartland Theatre's "The End of the Tour," where her acting skills took center stage. Susong describes Summer on Stage and these camps as a way "to provide a safe, nurturing and professional environment in which students can explore the dramatic arts. Theatre can teach creativity, problem solving, collaboration, public speaking, concentration, confidence, adaptability and promotes a curiosity to learn." What kid can't benefit from that?

GREENLIGHT CAMP is intended for the youngest set, offering fun and games for children between 5 and 7 years old, or those who will be entering kindergarten, first or second grade in the fall. Greenlight Camp involves a two-week session from May 29 to June 8, from 9 am to noon, at a cost of $180, which includes a camp t-shirt. I am given to understand that registration has been brisk for this level, so you are advised to sign up your youngster right away if they are between 5 and 7 and they are looking for an introduction to theater games, improvisation, stage movement and vocal performance. And please note that the children in Greenlight Camp will offer a fully produced play for friends and family at the end of the session. (The performance is scheduled for June 8 at 4 pm.) Cristen Susong notes that this is "the perfect morning camp for kids who love to be dramatic or need to break out of their shell or express their creativity." Which means it's perfect for pretty much every kid who needs an outlet during the summer.

FOOTLIGHT CAMP focuses on children a little older, those between 8 and 11, or entering 3rd, 4th or 5th grade in the fall. Footlight Camp is also a two-week session, and it's scheduled for the afternoons (1 to 4 pm) during that same May 29 to June 8 period. It's also offered for $180, and yes, the camp t-shirt is included. Footlight Camp is a little more advanced, and Susong says it's "the perfect camp for your budding actor or actress." Susong and her campers will work on their acting, improvisation, dance, voice and movement skills, as well as team and confidence building activities. And the Footlight Camp troupe will also end their summer season with a performance on Friday June 8th. This one has also been popular in terms of registrations, so parents should sign up for this one quickly.

SPOTLIGHT CAMP takes another step up, with kids 12 to 15, or those who'll be in 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th grade in the fall. As the age of the campers increases, so does the level of theatrical involvement and the intensity of the training. That's why Spotlight Camp is a three-week session instead of just two, and kids will be busy all day (or from 9 am to 3 pm, anyway) over the course of the session (from June 11 to 29). The cost is $250, and participants will get a camp t-shirt and a snack every day! The students involved will get a complete theatrical experience, with work on choreography, blocking, character development and everything they'll need to "put on a show." Mornings will be devoted to acting, singing, dancing and some backstage technical work, with afternoons spent rehearsing for their season-ending show on June 29.

If your child has been trying out for the school play or local children's theater productions and not getting anywhere, this might just be a path to the top of the cast list. I'm pretty sure I would've been begging Mom and Dad to sign me up when I was 13 or 14 and getting discouraged by not getting a speaking role in anything at my junior high. So if you want to save your budding star from having to be the silent court stenographer in the background, this is your chance!

The registration form for all three camps is here, with more information on Summer Stage (including the possibility of scholarships) here. If you have questions, Cristen Susong can be reached at 309-553-9323 or

1 comment:

  1. Great Camp types but what is the difference on those? which one is the best suitable for kids who have below 10 years age.