With the world on summer’s threshhold, I’ve begun to look back to when I was growing up. The summer days where the neighborhood kids would play for hours on end until sunset. Running barefoot in the backyard over mulch, gravel, and grass (that’s probably why I have Indian leather feet now) with my sister. But there was always that one week out of every summer I had camp.
Ah Music and Drama Camp. 50 or so preteen kids to awkward to talk to the opposite sex, but too curious to stay away, yet there we were, herded together into Wheaton Christian Grammar School’s hot gym, sweaty, nervous and overtly energized. The days would consist of separate “classes” where we’d learn singing, dancing, and acting, all of which were highly overdramatic and poorly produced.This was my camp experience from the ages of 8-11.
The smell of sweat and hormones clung to us, only made more dense when the individual groups of 15 would be crowded on a box set platform used year after year, forever threatening to break either by kids baby fat that hadn’t dropped yet (like me) or excessive stomping. All of this ravenous theatre make us grateful for break time. Here we ate “lunch”, meaning the heart attack inducing combo of Kool Aid, fluorescent ice pops, and Baloney, none of which should have been appealing in the 99 degree heat of the gym, but looking back, I think they were just trying to make us jumpy. After the break was acting class, where they told you being loud and overdramatic was acting. And finally, singing class, where we sang broadway hits that were made famous long before we were ever born, with councilors asking us to sing like broadway stars we’d never heard of, let alone knew what they sounded like. Afterwards we gathered together, red-faced, beaming and ready to go home.
This blissful process repeated through the week until….. Saturday night, we then were able to preform for family friends and lurkers. On this night all the groups came together to preform skits, show tunes and dance. Ironically, the skits were a mix of remakes where every major character from a fairytale or classic film (Dorothy, Annie etc.) gets brought up and re-hauled to come together in one great adventure with little to no plot. To give you an idea, think Into The Woods with a feather boa over our camp tees as a costume, no music and no Bernadette Peters. In between these great works of theatre were our Broadway songs and dances, choreographed to questionable perfection by an overweight mom with cankles, but in our heads, we were the best there was.
It was an excited disorganized production that resulted in high adrenaline and always ended in all the campers gathering at Culver’s. In that week we learned broadway hits and made friends that we pretended would be for life. As overdramatic as it was, those were the best weeks of my summer.