So Cool! Camp Intrepid Opens for the Winter
When someone says “theatre camp,” there are certain ideas that immediately spring to mind: fun, friendship, laughter, marshmallows. Erin Petersen, however, one of the main teachers of last summer’s inaugural sessions of Camp Intrepid, offers a different idea.
“Drama camp is a safe sanctuary where kids will be praised for thinking outside of the box,” Erin says. “Kids can be super hard on themselves about their performance and how they feel, especially now with everyone being bullied. The theatre is a creative place to go to escape from that pressure.”
Camp Intrepid represents the evolution of Intrepid Shakespeare’s Education Department, which currently includes year-round school tours and seasonal adult classes taught by local theatre professionals, including Intrepid Artistic Directors Sean and Christy Yael-Cox and special guest artists, like comedic actor Phil Johnson.
Last summer, Sean and Christy were overwhelmed by the positive response from both campers and parents to the first camp sessions of the summer. Some kids even enrolled in multiple sessions in order to continue their theatre experience.
“She’s addicted,” said Whitney DeSpain, of her daughter Abby’s interest in theatre, which grew even more during her multiple camp sessions. Abby was recently invited to perform in A Christmas Carol, Intrepid’s 2013 Staged Reading Series finale at the Encinitas Library.
Because of the wild popularity of the summer camp, Intrepid has created a winter incarnation of Camp Intrepid’s Young Actors Theatre Camp, with sessions starting January 10 and February 21 at the Encinitas Community Center. The winter camp will meet Friday afternoons and will run for five weeks. As with the summer camp, each session will culminate in a performance. (Click here for registration information.)
While it may seem daunting, putting together an entire show in such a short amount of time is exhilarating for campers, says Erin.
“The kids almost seem surprised at how good their shows go. There is always that moment of wondering if it’s going to be a train wreck and then realizing that, no, they’re actually really good at it.”
“It goes to show how much these kids care,” she continues. “This summer, the campers really took it upon themselves to know their character, their lines, and have it all motivated to make their end product the best it could be.”
While the admiration in Erin’s voice is clear, she is also adamant that it is not the performance that is the most important part of the theatre camp experience. It is the tools the campers learn to use while rehearsing and performing that matter.
“Everything we work on shows up in all different aspects of life,” she says. “For instance, public speaking, teamwork, confidence-building are all tools you can use even if you don’t choose to do theatre in the future.”
For that reason, kids of all theatre experience levels are welcome, and the balance of the newcomers with the more seasoned actors provide a chance for campers to learn from each other as well as from their professional teachers. This diversity made the summer productions sing – both literally and metaphorically.
“A lot of the campers had done some musical theatre, but in every camp there was at least one or two kids who had never done it before,” explains Erin. “There was always one or two who were terrified on the first day. Eventually, they rose to every challenge that we threw at them, and there was a lot – costumes, sets, tech. We try not to take away the magic of the theatre, but rather show them what’s behind the curtain, and how we use these tools to put it together.”
In turn, Intrepid also learned about its own ability to run a theatre camp, which – just like theatre – came with its own set of surprises.
“No matter how much you prepare, you are never prepared,” laughs Erin. “The unthinkable will always happen – for instance, bee stings. But we were able to roll with everything.”
Now Intrepid is eager to take their summer offering a step further, perhaps inspired by one young camper who announced he would be starting a petition for year-round drama camp.
“The camp surpassed our expectations,” says Sean, who is also Intrepid’s Director of Education. “We were all amazed at how much the kids could accomplish in such a short amount of time. Now we see that people are asking for it so we will do our best to deliver.”
— Tiffany Tang
Located at the Encinitas Community Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024. Fridays 3:30p – 5:00p, Session One: Jan 10 – Feb 7; Session Two: Feb 21 – Mar 21; Cost: $190/session. Register here.