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Drama Summer Camps: Kid-Friendly Picks in the U.S. and Canada

Updated on August 17, 2010

Children instinctively begin to explore all the world offers them by pretending. They are impressed by the lifestyle and abilities of adults and seek to emulate these admired traits. Once a little boy hits the playground he becomes an intergalactic soldier, professional ball player or dump truck driver. Girls play in mock-kitchens, raise dolls as children of their own, date “Ken” figurines, and move beyond the domestic realm to train as Olympic gymnasts or ballerinas. Imaginative kids seek to be far greater than they presently are. They want to grow up to “be something!”

Sadly over time, kids are taught to stop pretending and to lower their aspirations. Slowly they must deal with what is and not what could be. The arts have become criminally underrated in the educational system. Yet practical by-the-numbers thinking is fast becoming a relic in the workplace. Creative people have an edge because they are able to choose from an amazing array of options in business or in life. Everything becomes more vibrant. Contrary to misguided popular opinion, creativity is something that is learned. It only blossoms in those that allow it to.

Why Drama Camp?

Performance art such as theatre is an incredible way to foster communication skills. A large segment of the population is terrified of giving public speeches, mostly because the speaker must face the audience alone. There is a community spirit in drama. Confidence is built when a child starts with smaller roles, making them a part of something bigger than themselves. Before long the same child may take on a leading role, addressing the audience among a backdrop of cast members. The audience, choreographer, fellow actors and thrill of performing create amazing courage in the young.

Kids learn just as much from other kids at a drama camp as from the instructor. Having others around of the same age with the same interests creates a synergistic effect. Together they find great joy in creating captivating entertainment.

Finding the Right Drama Summer Camp

Beyond a few big players like PAW’s Musical Theater Camp (with various locations in Los Angeles such as San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach etc.), most drama camps are small operations with one location, or two at most.

Using Google to look for “drama summer camps” then adding the U.S. state or Canadian province to the search doesn’t bring very good results. Many of the local camps don’t have the budget for a fancy web presence, so some of the better options can get buried among numerous results. Camp Channel is a better place to look for drama camps. They have a section dedicated to theatre camps here.

What to Look For

Not all drama summer camps are created equal. Available options will of course depend on where you live. Like with anything related to the arts, big cities get far more attention. If you have a number of options you’re considering, pick up and phone and start asking questions.
Here are some basic ideas for those that are less familiar with the musical theatre and acting realm. At the very least mentioning a few of these items will get a good discussion going, allow you to make the judgement call on whom to choose.

  • Will my kid receive one-on-one instruction?
  • Will my kid learn how to act, dance and sing or do you focus on specific skills?
  • Will children be present that are of the same age as my kid?
  • What kind of productions will my kid be performing?
  • What skill level is the course geared towards?
  • Do you provide a stress-free acting environment?
  • Do you encourage children to pursue acting professionally?

Drama camps tend to come in different flavours. Be sure that the camp you are interested in also suits your child. Put the need of your kid first and try to overcome the need create a “child star”. This will only create stress and quite possibility put a strain on your relationship. If in doubt, ask your little one about their preferences or show them a few available options you find reasonable to choose from.

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