The two most terrifying words a parent can hear… especially right in the thick of the summer.
Perhaps you think it’s way overdue for your child to have a new experience… or perhaps you just need a break from your kiddo for a while this summer. And your kid likes acting, don’t they? Perhaps they have a “dramatic” side to them, or are always pretending to be someone else. Well then, theatre camp must be the perfect place for them!
But before you whip out the credit card and sign the registration forms, please take the following three tips into account!
1) Make sure your child knows what he/she is getting into.
First and foremost — does your child actually WANT to go to theatre camp? Have they ever expressed any interest in acting, theatre, or drama? And please don’t give me the “My child is SO DRAMATIC” line. Theatre camp is not the place to send your seven-going-on-seventeen diva. If your child has a genuine interest in acting or theatre, then go ahead and sign them up. But please, no divas. We don’t want to deal with them. And just because YOU want your kid to go to camp or be an actor, doesn’t mean that your child has any aspirations of being on the stage.
ALSO: Please TELL your child you’re signing them up for camp before they go. It’s no fun for your kid to discover that morning that they’re being shipped off to camp. At best, they’ll be nervous and anxious; at worst, they’ll feel like you’re abandoning them. Think about the equivalent: it’d be like your kids turning around and putting you in a nursing home without your consent.
This is true of any camp, but especially so in theatre — which is such a collaborative medium — one miserable kid can totally ruin everyone else’s camp experience. While it is important for kids to try new things and have new experiences, you shouldn’t have to force a kid to go to camp — they should want to go of their own accord.
2) Make sure YOU know what you’re getting your child into.
It boggles my mind how often parents either forget or just plain don’t know what they’ve signed up their kids for! Make sure to spend some time doing some research about what kind of camp experience you’re looking for.
Some things to consider include:
- Length/duration of the camp (Full days? Half days? One week? Two weeks?)
- Day camp vs. overnight camp
- Local vs. out of town
- Type of programming (regular “camp” experience vs. intensive theatrical training program vs. summer performance company)
- Cost of the camp
And once you register your child, PLEASE be sure to write down and/or print out all relevant information/confirmation/receipts that are available!
3) Make sure your child is truly ready for camp.
I’m not sure why this is, but so many parents seem to want to push their kid ahead and register them in a camp before they are ready or old enough for the camp. Camp age restrictions are not chosen arbitrarily, and they are not there to exclude your child. Plays and musicals require the use of scripts, and if your child cannot read or has difficulty reading, they’re probably going to have a tough time at theatre camp.
And if your child is clearly the youngest person in their group, they may have trouble fitting in. They might have difficulty keeping up with the activities (such as learning choreography at a faster pace than they’re used to); they may not be able to sit still or pay attention for as long as the rest of the group; or they may have difficulty making friends with the older kids, who may not want to hang out with someone much younger than them.
ALSO: If your child is shy, or has a medical concern or a special need, please be sure to share this with your child’s counsellor. This is not to single your child out. It’s to ensure that your child’s counsellor is equipped with all the information they have to help make your child’s camp experience the best it can be. Camp staff are trained specifically to ensure your child’s privacy and confidentiality will be respected, and if they are armed with this important information, it will only help your child thrive at camp.
What are some important factors that you consider before sending your kid to camp? Do you have any tips for people who are thinking about sending their kid to camp? Share your thoughts in the comments!