The Call of the Stage

Merrill Community Arts Center offers a wide variety of summer camps for kids.

The glow of stage lights warms excited faces and a sense of purpose settles in bones. With each line spoken crisp and clear, with each note hit and with each costume change, performers are transported to another time and place. The performing arts provide a space to explore—everything from history to fears to the world around us—and in this exploration, your child just might find their calling on stage. This summer, children can experience the excitement and lessons of the stage in a variety of performing arts camps offered at the Merrill Community Arts Center (MCAC).  

Music Theater Camp
This community favorite was created five years ago under the name of Summer Stock, and although the name has changed, this camp will stay true to its roots. “This is a musical revue camp which focuses on creating a performance at the end of the week,” says MCAC education director Kajsa Jones. Participants get their bodies moving through the spins and leaps of choreography, and test their lung capacity by belting out some of their favorite show tunes. In the process of putting together this performance, kids learn the vital skills of collaboration, creative problem-solving and confidence. “Kids come back year after year for this program,” Jones says. Grades 1-3 and 4-6 June 25-29 (Music Theater Camp Jr.). $279; grades 7-12 July 16-27. $479.

SOS for Youth
The teenage years tend to be muddled with complicated math tests, difficult life choices and peer pressure. For some youth, the answer can be found in performance. “SOS for Youth is a performance troupe with a community outreach mission to support teens in making good life choices,” Jones says. “Members are trained in acting and leadership skills to become agents of powerful change.” The teens tackle issues such as bullying, substance abuse and mental illness, and create performances based on these subjects. SOS for Youth is a year-long performance troupe, but this week-long class can give interested youth a look into what the program entails. “We often hear from adults, who were in this program as youth, about how much it helped them through the difficulties of growing up,” Jones says. Free, $25 for new students. June 25-29 and July 9-13.

The Play’s the Thing Camp
This camp is a chance for young thespians to focus in on their theater training. “It’s both a rehearsal process and a learning environment,” Jones says. “The program will focus on learning theater skills while doing a play.” This week-long intensive program includes elements of improvisation, physical theater and realism, as well as creative play which are “awesome for young people brains,” Jones says. Grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-10. June 18-22. $279.

Aspire Music Academy
This program offers participants a chance to raise their voices and grow their musical chops while singing along with an age-based choir. According to the MCAC website, the belief behind Aspire is that “exposure to music and performing arts at an early age brings significant benefits to young people and their families.” Throughout this week-long intensive program, students learn skills including cooperation, poise and discipline. Grades 1-3, 4-6, 6-9, 9-12. June 11-15, July 9-13, July 30-August 3, August 6-10. $179-$249.