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Summer camp program a hit at Scottdale's Geyer center

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:09 p.m.
Rachel Basinger | For The Independent-Observer
Kat Post, educational director of the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale, arranges wands for a performance by the students of Camp Curtain Call.
Rachel Basinger | For The Independent-Observer
Students in last week's fairy tale-themed Camp Curtain Call program at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale participate in some breathing exercises.

The summer camp at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale grew significantly this year.

With three weeks of camp, the last one being a fairy-tale camp for ages 4 to 8, theater organizers are happy with how Camp Curtain Call has grown in popularity.

“The kids are why we're here,” said Kat Post, education director “I feel like these camps are helping to change people's lives.”

Mandy Onder, theater education manager, said there was a Willy Wonka-themed camp in June, which lasted two weeks, for kids ages 9-18. The camp finished up with a performance of “Willy Wonka Jr.”

Just this past week, fairy tale camp — geared for children ages 4-8 — took place.

Onder said this was the first year for the younger age group, and 35 children participated.

But she added that it is uncertain if there will be a camp for that specific age group next year or if there will be a move to more of a 4- and 5-year old “Mommy and Me”-style class with the older children bumping up into the next camp.

“The lack of following directions and basic interaction was a huge challenge for us, but it was fun,” Onder said. “It took me back to being a teacher and my classroom procedures.”

The goal of Camp Curtain Call, as well as the Geyer After School Program that starts in mid-September, is to teach children confidence and how to interact with others.

“We want children to be confident, to bring their personalities to the surface,” Onder said.

Post added theater teaches literacy and creativity as well, which helps children develop and thrive in the classroom.

She encouraged parents to continue reading and acting with their children at home.

“You can exponentially multiply the benefits of camp if you continue to read and act with your children at home,” Post said. “Be a pig or be the big bad wolf when you're reading about it.”

Onder said the theater received a grant through the Private Industry Council, which helped to pay two interns to help with Camp Curtain Call.

“We have plans for the future,” she said. “We want to keep growing and expanding our children's programs. We want to develop a sense of community.

“On average, we have about 30 kids in our after-school program and we're hoping to double that this upcoming school year.”

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.