Arts and Entertainment

Snapshots of summer camp with the Kitsap Mountaineers

At the conclusion of this year
At the conclusion of this year's Theater Camp, Kitsap Mountaineers kids staged 'Seasons of Love.'
— image credit: Courtesy/Katha J. Miller-Winder

Take 15 staff, months of planning and preparation, and a magical outdoor venue. Mix thoroughly with campers age 9-15, fights, dances, songs and scenes. Bake in 105 degree heat, cool to 57 degrees and serve fresh to an audience of parents and friends. That’s The Mountaineers’ recipe for a successful summer camp.

It was an intense but very satisfying two weeks I just spent as the assistant camp director for The Mountaineers Kitsap Branch Youth Theater Camp. Among my camp duties was taking pictures for the end of camp photo CDs, and perhaps that’s the reason my memories of camp seem to come as a series of mental snapshots.

This is how I remember Theater Camp held at the Kitsap Forest Theater July 27-31 and Aug. 3-7:

• The shy hesitant child that was reluctant to participate in opening day warm ups — watching that child gain confidence, seeing the ear to ear grin on her face as campers took their bows following the first week’s Performance Showcase.

• A youngster proudly showing me his script, saying he’d already learned his lines.

• The kindness of one child for another who’d forgotten to bring lunch, watching them sit side by side sharing a meal — the children were 9 and 16, it was the 16 year old that forgot lunch.

• The laughter evoked by tales of going out in public made up with bruises and injuries from the bonus stagecraft class.

• The delight of the camper who turned 16 during camp and found that someone had decorated the trail to the theater with ‘Happy Birthday’ banners.

• The involuntary winces and indrawn breath of the audience when the well-executed fight choreography looked too real. The mother soothing younger siblings and assuring them that sister or brother wasn’t really hurt; that it was all just make-believe.

• Campers proudly showing off their new vocabularies: “I already know my blocking,” “Do you know what our cue is supposed to be?” “I’m having trouble with the choreography but I’ll get it.”

• The friendships formed.

• The astonishment and deep pride of family and friends when they see for themselves just what their children are capable of in a single week.

• The laughter and the tears, the bittersweet end of camp.

• The reluctance to say goodbye, the insistence that “we’ll be back next year.”

• The campers that will be too old next year and ask to come back as interns.

Now in its second year of operation, Theater Camp offers campers a chance to learn music, dance, acting and stage combat out of doors. The Mountaineers Kitsap Branch is very proud to have this magical experience available for young people. With the generous scholarship help made available by The Mountaineers Foundation young people of a wide variety of backgrounds are given a chance for a unique experience. The purpose of camp is to provide young people with a positive outdoor experience that will help them grow and develop as confident individuals.

Find more on the theater camp and more activities for kids through the Mountaineers' HARK program at www.kitsapmountaineers.org.

Katha J. Miller-Winder is Conservation and Outreach Chair, scribe extraordinaire, for the Kitsap Mountaineers.

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