Students participating in Camp Broadway
Students participating in Camp Broadway

Summer Camps That Perform

Summer is a perfect time for kids to delve into creative expression, whether trying out a new interest or exploring a deeply-held passion.

For years, there were sports camps for aspiring athletes or traditional camps for nature enthusiasts, but fewer outlets available for arts lovers. Maybe your child already knows they want to be a Broadway triple-threat, perhaps they’ve just got a creative spirit, or maybe you want to fill a void left by a decline in arts funding in schools. In all cases, there are now a variety of specialty performing arts camps available to broaden your child’s horizons while instilling confidence in a new craft.

As the founder of Everything Summer, Jill Tipograph is an expert at matching the right kids and teens to the right camps and summer programs. Jill advises parents to “consider all the variables, from the reality of session dates and budget to the suitability of the program to your child.” How do you choose between an arts camp or a traditional one? “Traditional programs can create a great foundation,” Jill says. But on the other hand, enrolling in an arts camp may encourage more specific skills development. “Going into the camp setting, they already share a bond of interest with the other kids,” she says.

Camp Broadway, Broadway’s original summer camp, is one outlet for creative kids who love Broadway shows, and who want to connect to Broadway professionals. What’s striking about Camp Broadway is that every child is given an ensemble role, compelling them to work together as a team. This is precisely what Jill loves about Camp Broadway. “It’s an immersive experience, learning from artisans, and doing it in a week’s time.” The staff has extensive Broadway credits, and visiting Broadway cast members bring the breadth of their expertise as well. Over the course of a week, theater-loving kids from ages 6-17 are brought through the paces of a real Broadway rehearsal process. This year, with guidance from a seasoned director as well as a choreographer, they will rehearse classic Broadway material from Damn YankeesPajama Game, and Peter Pan, depending on age, all culminating in a Family Finale showcase. “Parents come from all over the world for this authentic Broadway experience,” says Camp Broadway’s Melissa Caolo. Other perks of the program include seeing a best-selling Broadway show (this year it’ll be Matilda the Musical and Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), that features an opportunity to meet cast and crew. Camp Broadway’s signature program is in New York, and it is also presented in major theaters nationwide. The NYC programs run July 15-19 and August 5-9. Camp Broadway is a perfect experience for the whole family. While kids are at camp, parents can have their adventures, exploring all there is to do in Manhattan. More information can be found on their website: www.campbroadway.com.

In the arena of sleep-away camping, Appel Farm Arts Camp, part of the famous arts festival, is located in rural New Jersey, and staffed with artists, musicians, and writers from New York and the Tri-State area. Appel Farm offers a residential experience in a variety of arts, from music and theater to the fine and applied arts, in a low-key environment. There can be benefits to taking a multidisciplinary approach, because, as Jill mentions, “Arts programs are very welcoming to all kinds of kids.” Another benefit of Appel Farm’s remote location is that traditional camp activities, such as swimming and recreational sports, are back on the program. Campers say that Appel Farm is like a home away from home, a place where they can really focus on the joys of creative expression. Additional information can be found at www.appelfarm.org, or, if you’re looking for overnight camp experiences focused on performing and creative arts, some other options include Stage Door Manor and Interlochen Center for the Arts.

If Hollywood is the place where your young screen legend aspires to shine, New York Film Academy summer camps are the way to go. With locations on both coasts and around the world, NYFA is primarily geared towards sophisticated teens, and gives every attendee the opportunity to produce, shoot, perform, edit, and direct their own short films. NYFA is a teen summer program and does provide room and board at additional cost. Jill recommends parents review the added independence teens typically get at these summer programs. “You need to know your child and how much independence and responsibility they can handle.” If your child has the passion and wherewithal to do the work and is inspired by travel to big cities, NYFA can be a great experience. To find out more, visit www.nyfa.edu.

Alternatively, if you’d like to seek further great experiences, Jill Tipograph of Everything Summer is an independent expert in camps and summer programs, and can help you choose the best fit.