Maybe you're encouraging your child to try new things.
Some of you may register your child for a theatre camp because they love acting and really want to spend their time at camp becoming better performers.
This post is largely being written for those of you who fall into that last category, although it might be useful to others as well.
How do you ascertain if a specific program is right for your child and meets your expectations and desired outcomes?
When my children were younger I had them in camps for gymnastics, swimming, tennis, musical theatre, tech theatre, soccer, horse back riding, visual arts, dance, martial arts and MORE.
My children and I loved lots of the camps they attended but we also found ourselves frustrated and disappointed by many of them.
Most camps are not inexpensive, so If we were going to spend our money and time on a camp, I wanted to ensure my children would be in a safe, nurturing environment, that their instructors would be highly qualified to provide excellent instruction, that the ratio of teacher to students be easily manageable, that the learning outcomes for the camp be clear to the staff and to parents, and that my children would have fun and would actually gain new skills and grow in ways that would make them feel great about their accomplishments.
That may seem like a big ask, but I guarantee you, those programs definitely do exist out there!
Here is a list of questions you may want to ask when you call to inquire about a Theatre Arts related Summer Camp for your child:
1-Who will all of my children’s instructors be? What are their qualifications? What experience do they have teaching children in their area of expertise? (There are some hugely talented people out there that are fantastic performers, but that does not always mean that they are great educators of children)
2-What is the maximum number of children that will be in my child’s camp?
3-How much time during the day will my child be receiving instruction vs lunch, breaks and recess time? (I had my children in a 3 hour camp one summer just to find out that almost half of the time the kids were playing games, taking bathroom breaks, snack breaks, etc…that was not what my 8 and 9 year olds were wanting in their camp experience-they came home saying they were bored-and that was definitely not what I was paying good money for)
4-Will there be a performance for family and friends at the end of the camp? What kind of performance will there be? Is there a fee for tickets or costumes etc…? (I was really upset when I spent a huge amount of money for a camp just to find out when it was time for the performance that the audience had to pay to watch their own children, siblings, grand children etc…I thought this should have been made clear in advance and I also thought the camp fees would cover the cost of watching their end of camp show.)
5-If you register for a performance camp, say for example the Wizard of Oz, how are casting decisions made? If my child is disappointed in the part they receive how is that dealt with? What are the children who are munchkins doing during the numerous hours that the director will need to be working with Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion,….you get the picture. How big will the ensemble be? (Some camps have no limit to the number of kids they will “cast” in their show, they just have a bigger ensemble because that means more money for them, and I have never felt that was equitable.)
6-What does the program aim for each camper to gain from the time they spend at camp?
7-How are more capable or advanced students challenged while making sure students who are newer to theatre also have a positive experience and are not left feeling overlooked?
There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to these questions, as long as you are satisfied that the program they are offering your child matches your hopes and desires for them. I hope this list of questions help you clarify what you want in a Summer camp for your child and whether or not the program you are considering will be able to meet those needs!