Saturday, September 13, 2008

Camp Report

I have barely caught my breath after a very busy 6 weeks or so this summer. Finally dipped the toes back into the waters of teen theater with a workshop that ran for 3 weeks. It was satisfying but exhausting as I was pretty much the only one running the show although I had wonderful local visitors - actors, costume and makeup people, local directors and production people as well as local musical theater people. The kids got a real education, I think, except for Natan who is perhaps too much of a theater snob at this point. In truth, for him, the level wasn't quite there - after 5 years with the NYCHEA players, he's fairly comfortable with whatever you throw at him and can read it fluently (even if he doesn't know what it's about) and will jump into anything and at least try it. This crowd however, didn't have the reading fluency, even if they have the speaking fluency. That's the interesting complication. As well, in conservative Jerusalem, to read Beckett is odd to the kids and I found that there ability to take in more modern pieces was limited. David Ives worked for everyone, thankfully, and we had a lot of fun with our 2-day Stage Combat workshop which was given by two local people - one the director of a new and young Shakespearian company. All in all, an experience.  We finished up with a quick and dirty presentation that was also problematic for some of my actors who like a fully finished piece with costumes, set, etc. I kept pointing out that  staged reading is still and effective way to present new material that has not been fully learned and that it's an okay method - everyone knows that it's not a 'finished piece,' but that was still a hard sell.

Segued from STW to Shutaf right after Tisha'a Ba'av. Camp had started already on 8/11 but I didn't finish STW until the 18th so Miriam, my partner, was doing yoeman's work and it was work this season as we had 40 kids, 7 young adults with special needs (and some were quite involved in terms of needing facilitating) and lots of staff. Our staff felt overwhelmed at first at the multitude of issues - emotional and behavioral - as well as just adjusting in to the program, the heat and the day. We worked on the fly to solve problems and educate the staff as best as possible but it wasn't a slam dunk. Funny how having 34 kids for 6 days before Pesach was complicated but doable but once you have 40 kids and 3 weeks of camp, you're in that game of camp with all of it's warts and stuff and day to day support of staff even more than the kids in order to get the through the experience.  We learned alot for the next camp which is fine.

There were many best things but one of the best things were our volunteers. There is nothing quite like the NRG of a 14/15 year old boy and we had a few teens, (one girl too) who came and worked hard and really enjoyed the challenge and look forward to returning to Shutaf for our next camp. That's pretty cool. We also had some other younger staffers this year as well as one retiree who joined us as a volunteer - all added to that feeling that we're building a community and not just a camp. Good karma.

Now, we move on to planning the fall. Once again, sweating the funds, trying to plan a fall fundraiser and trying to figure out how to make it happen for the next year. It's exhausting and very multi-dimensional work and I'd really just like a vacation.

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