(Featured Image from JKCP Xploration Showcase, Summer 2014)
“JKCP Summer, it’s a place for glee…”
19 years ago, I crafted those words, as I was responsible for writing our camp’s theme song.
After an unsuccessful one month and four days at overnight camp, I was a bit lost, until I found my personal mecca in the form of what used to be called the JKST Creative and Performing Arts Camp at a tiny, local private school.
“Singing and dancing and acting galore, you won’t want to leave it, you’ll always want more…”
That’s some raw talent right there.
My summers at camp were magical. I wrote last year about my weeks with Jolene, a Broadway performer who worked with me, individually, for two weeks each summer. During those weeks she introduced me to Gershwin and the Italian language and the art of true stage presence.
It was during my second summer at camp that I had the chance to work with an actual rock star named Derek from the UK. I wrote here about how Derek took this little, somewhat-sheltered suburbanite and taught me about cool singers like Lou Reed and bands like Oasis.
Well, guess what? I still sing “Don’t Look Back in Anger” with my beloved rock band, Fox and the Hounds, today.
As far as the Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs, I can say with great confidence that I know them inside and out. They were (and are) Summer Camp, for me. And this is why:
After two summers as a camper at the CAPA Camp I moved up in the ranks to attend the Enrichment Program, as I was a rising Freshman in High School. This was a transformative life experience.
Back in my day (ugh! I sound so old!) the Enrichment camp was held at Haverford College (They now have programs at both The University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University), and I was part of a very talented group of campers from across the WORLD who lived and performed with me, as we learned everything from Shakespeare to The Beatles. It was there that I made a friend for life (BF+BF=BFF). Our director was a vivacious performer named Carlos, and every day was a new theatrical adventure. But more than my experience doing my performing arts thing, I relished the opportunity to be a young teenager on a college campus, with the freedom to walk to the local bookstore (this is when bookstores still existed. Now they get to walk to frozen yogurt shops, which isn’t too shabby, either!) and to hang out in real college dorms. It all felt very grown up. I felt sophisticated. And despite the fact that I was a day camper (as I was a local), I got to attend many awesome events with the residential campers, like pajama parties, dances and a trip to New York City. I saw Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway with Bernadette Peters and bought my very own “Prado” bag.
The following summer, I got my next big break when I was hired as a counselor for the new Creative and Performing Arts Camp, as they moved to a much bigger space, expanding their program.
When I was in High School I worked as a general counselor, focusing on the musical theatre side of things. Obviously.
When I was in college I became the Improvisation teacher and was responsible for directing the bi-weekly showcase performances, featuring the campers’ work in all mediums of art.
Last summer, as a mother of two, I directed the Performing Arts Program at the completely revamped and unbelievable Xploration Camp for middle school students. Best. Experience. Ever.
I got to teach the most incredible young-adults from all across the world, from both the Xploration and Yesh Shabbat programs and I had the time of my life.
I feel blessed that I am still in touch with my sassy chicas from the Dominican Republic, talented performers from Canada to California to New York, and local young ladies who, in their own words (as I had them write their own monologues), started the weeks with me feeling shy and ended the weeks feeling like family.
We performed songs and scenes from Rent, Wicked, Newsies and more. I wrote about my immeasurable love here, as I will never forget the summer of 2014 and how, in many ways, it brought me back to life.
Why am I writing about camp now, you ask?
Well, for one, it is on my mind. I wrote a Facebook status last night on my personal page that is still hard for me to type.
“Buying a BACKPACK and LUNCHBAG for [my son] who was just born 5 seconds ago. I am buying my baby camp gear. This doesn’t make sense!!”
While my kids are not yet old enough to attend the JKCP, you better believe that they will. And I will be right there with them.
It is hard for me to find the right words to use to describe the atmosphere at Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs. I have even tried to find idioms in other languages, but it is nearly impossible. You just have to be there. You have to feel the magic firsthand.
All of the JK programs have soul. I found this, I lived this, and I saw it, most keenly, last summer, as I watched the campers around me high-fiving one another as they geared up for tennis, applauding their peers as they bravely read aloud their creative writing masterpieces, dancing like maniacs as they learned to DJ and proudly sharing the food that they had cooked that day.
If you go to the JKCP website you will see a banner that reads, “Summer Starts Here” and for me that has always been the case.
As I said, it is where I have had some of my most happy and proud memories;
it is where I have learned some of the most valuable lessons about theatre and about life;
it is, as I have said, summer camp, for me.
And, as a Mommy, Ever After reader, you receive $50 off of your tuition to the Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs by signing up online RIGHT HERE.
“Singing and dancing and acting galore, you won’t want to leave it you’ll always want more…”
Well, 19 years later I was right, as I still want more. More nurturing, more one-in-a-lifetime experiences and, most of all, more FUN.
This post was written in partnership with the Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs. All opinions are, as always, 100% honest and my own.