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Camp Out With the Arts This Summer

by Rocío De La Roca, Communications Associate at ArtsWestchester

Summer campers at White Plains Performing Arts Center performed Disney's "Frozen Jr." (photo credit: Kathleen Davisson)
Summer campers at White Plains Performing Arts Center performed Disney's "Frozen Jr." (photo credit: Kathleen Davisson)
Summer campers at White Plains Performing Arts Center performed Disney's "Frozen Jr." (photo credit: Kathleen Davisson)

Summer has arrived, and kids and adults still anxiously wait to escape the monotony and strain of quarantine. Most summers, families look forward to enrolling in summer camps, a vital ritual and aid for many children and their working parents. Yet with COVID-19 still looming, countless summer camps have decided to close or cancel their programs for the summer season. Arts organizations in Westchester are providing hope for those who are looking to break away from quarantine routines to step outdoors, or simply have fun while remaining safely at home.

By reinventing and modifying their summer camps to comply with New York State safety regulations and protocols, these organizations are safely connecting with their communities. “Our main goal is to give kids the opportunity to have some fun after being stuck inside for so long while still learning from industry professionals about theatre,” explains Stephen Ferri, Executive Producer and Resident Musical Director at White Plains Performing Arts Center (WPPAC). WPPAC is one of more than 15 arts organizations in Westchester that will host adaptable summer camps this year.

The WPPAC expanded its annual Summer Theatre Academy into an on-site and online program to accommodate its audiences’ needs and preferences. From July 13 through September 3, children in grades K-9 will learn acting, singing and dancing techniques during the Center’s in-person camps, which will culminate with live theatre productions, including Disney’s Descendants, Moana JR and The Wizard of Oz. Daily disinfecting of all WPPAC’s facilities, contact-free temperature checks for campers and staff, and limited enrollment of camps are some of the program’s new health protocols that are being implemented to ensure social distancing and the safety of all participants. If parents are uncomfortable with in-person classes, WPPAC’s new two-week Online Musical Theatre Intensive program for kids aged 7-17 will be available via Zoom to help kids develop their performing skills and create an actor reel from the comfort of their homes.

Other arts organizations, such as Hoff-Barthelson Music School (HBMS), are moving their camps entirely online so that families can participate in stimulating opportunities but continue to practice social distancing. HBMS’s Summer Arts Program Online is a personalized three-day-per-week program that offers students in Grades 1-12 with the opportunity to try new instruments, practice their music skills and perform while minimizing screen time. The range of classes offered includes classical music performance, jazz and popular music, music technology, musical theater, composition and arranging, and more.

Young campers will be encouraged to get outside with masks and put pencil to paper during Hudson Valley Writers Center’s Creative Writing Camp, presented in partnership with the Tarrytown Arts Camp (TAC). The live virtual writing workshops, held on Wednesdays through July 22 via Google Meet, will ask students in Grades 5-8 to consider the advantages and disadvantages of life during the pandemic. Workshops will provide an opportunity for young writers to voice their feelings about being isolated from friends and confined inside their homes.

TAC Director Anna Povich de Mayor explains: ”During these times, if there is anything vital to our wellbeing, it is the arts. We are happy to provide our children with an outlet to express their feelings, provoke their imaginations, and bring joy during this challenging moment in time.”

Hoff-Barthelson Music School student (photo credit: Steven Schnur)

SUMMER CAMPS

A version of this article first appeared in the July issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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