More changes are coming to Riverlea in 2016! Through conversations with campers and counselors, and in various responses from parents via our anonymous online feedback forms, we began a conversation and eventually decided to collapse music and drama into a single department now called ‘performances’.
This has been a gradual process, one that we started before last summer when we decided to teach camp songs during all-camp morning and afternoon assemblies. This was part of a broader effort to strengthen our all-camp community, as well as to give new and younger campers more exposure and time to learn the songs that are part of Riverlea tradition and spirit. Moreover, we ask all counselors to help teach songs. This allows them to experience what we ask of the campers: to work together, to showcase their strengths, to venture outside their comfort zones and challenge themselves, and to step aside so others may have the time and space to do the same. Teaching and learning songs during assemblies will continue 2016 and beyond.
What we learned from conversations with campers is that music class oftentimes feels like something they do in school (and that this makes it less fun). Without disregarding the importance of camp tradition and the role it plays in feeling connected to a broader community, our goal was to reimagine a program broad enough in its implementation, but specific enough in its goals to allow counselors to easily guide the development of a group performance project that not only showcases each camper’s strengths (helping them feel efficacious and confident in themselves), but also challenges each camper to step outside her or his comfort zone (encouraging them to grow).
It is along the lines of challenge and teamwork that we decided to refocus our drama and music departments on collaborative performances. While teaching campers about the requisite skills of stage presence, projection, expression, motion, collaboration, role-taking, timing, creativity, improvisation, etc., we can structure the development of each performance around the strengths and growth of each camper. And, at some point during the last week of each session, each group will have the opportunity to perform their project.
I look forward to what our campers can come up with: song parodies, skits, musicals, silent films, choreographed dances, improv sketches, or whatever else they decide (or happen) to create, and to see the creative, collaborative, and challenging journey they have to take in order to get there.