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Musical theatre youth camp returns to Sudbury

Musical theatre camp gives kids an opportunity to be creative and have fun with their peers

While the pandemic wreaked havoc on adults’ lives, what remains to be seen is the long-term effects it may have had on our children.

Kids were taken out of school and away from their friends, and virtual home schooling added even more screen time to their lives. This “new normal” resulted in kids becoming more anxious, depressed, and eroded both their confidence and ability to socialize normally with their peers.

“The pandemic really changed how everyone lives their lives,” said Mark Mannisto, president and founder of Sudbury Performance Group (SPG). “We’ve had two years of learning new life functions and learning them very, very fast,” adding that our kids have faced specific changes and challenges that they’re still in the process of rebuilding.

This summer, SPG will once again be hosting their musical theatre youth camp, in-person and with no restrictions for the first time. Mannisto said this program is a great way for kids to start regaining a sense of normalcy, is good for their mental health, and a great way to continue that journey forward.

“This is an opportunity to look at their anxiety and say, ‘Well how can beat this,’ and being able to do performance is a way of eroding the anxiety because they have no choice but to get out and act out,”” he said.

Youth Company summer day camp is ideal for every child, regardless of ability

Held in two-week sessions and offered to elementary children up to grade eight, SPG’s Youth Company is a summer day camp where kids will be learning the essentials of stage performance including acting, choreography and vocals.

Mannisto said they taught by four, highly-skilled local artists who will be their camp counsellors, and from the moment they arrive and for the entire two weeks, the kids will be in rehearsals learning the show they will be performing on the final day of camp.

Mannisto said, the show chosen will reflect the preferences and abilities of the registrants to make the experience fun and positive, but it’s not based on skill level as the experience and curriculum is designed to be accommodating to all.

“We try to make this as inclusive as possible and the nice thing about this is you don’t need to have a bunch of theatre experience in the theatre arts to be a part of this camp, we look at this as an opportunity for children to get their feet wet for the very first time,” he said. Maybe you have a child who has tons of personality and is so very dramatic and has never done this before and you think maybe this is something they’ll excel in, well put them in and see where they go.”

However, maybe your child is more quiet and introverted, theatre camp can be the ideal place for them as well as it can help them get out of their shell and give them an opportunity to express themselves creatively. That said, Mannisto said this camp provides many positive benefits for kids.

“There’s obvious ones like making new friends, but there are also lifelong skills that they learn, they learn all about collaboration… and how each person’s contribution is crucial to mounting something that’s going to be successful,” he said.

Musical theatre camp gives kids a positive outlet while helping to re-establish a sense of community

Regaining some semblance of normalcy is important, especially for our kids. They’ve gone through so much, and Mannisto said participating in this camp will provide a positive outlet while re-establishing a sense of community.

“It’s about time we start learning to build community again,” he said. “It’s been so isolating and for the children, this is such an important time in their life where they’re learning about community and they’re learning about self-discovery and this type of program really helps build community for them.”

It can also help them to build important life skills such as communication and self-expression, while also building confidence and self-esteem, all of which can be carried over into other areas of their lives. Just as importantly, Mannisto said this is an activity that will get our kids off of screens.

“This gives the child an opportunity to have an extracurricular activity that is not tied to being in front of their IPad or cell phone and checking the latest updates on social media or how many likes they got…you forget about that and get back to basics of working with friends and working with others,” he said.

The first camp session begins July 4 and the final one on August 15. To learn more about SPG’s Youth Company contact them online, call 705-662-8518, e mail [email protected] them, or check out their Facebook page for fees and other information.