Week 1 at VYT Summer Camp

Who is writing this blog?

Elizabeth Mattia: An intern from a land far far away. (Ohio)

I am passionate about how music, theatre and dance grow people into the best people they can be. Being involved in theatre from an early age has made me a kinder, and more creative individual. I study Communication and Theatre in College, and my desire is to share all I have learned with the next generation. But most importantly I want to be an individual that instills confidence in their hearts. I was in a summer camp just like this for 10 years, and I would not trade my experiences in theatre summer camp for anything. I value these camps, and the staff here has blown me away. (in the best way)

My first week here has been wonderful, and I am excited to share my observations, and communicate what this camp really does in the lives of children.

“This is a safe place to try.” “Be accepting of others, and yourself.”

 “Fill the room.” “Nobody does your name better than you.”

“Respect everyone, and yourself.” “Collaboration is key.”

“We’re better when we work together.”

These are just a few of the inspiring words our VYT staff spoke to the campers this first week. You can see that these quotes are not technicalities about how to “be a superstar”. They are principles that encourage confidence and kindness in the heart of an individual. In my experiences as an entertainer, I have learned that the best performers live out these words zealously. It excites me that the leaders of this camp strive to teach these values.

No matter a child’s background there is a place for them in the theatre. They have a place to play, dream and create. A misconception is that every child here has a dream to be on Broadway. That is not the case. Some children may desire that one day, but for some kids this is the place they escape real life and express parts of themselves that they hide most of the time.

This camp is more than a workshop about how to put on a musical. It is about coming into a child’s life and making a positive difference through singing, acting and dance. One of the leading goals here is to inspire kids to be their authentic selves in and out of the theatre.

The staff here breathes kindness and acceptance like air. I can see that their positive attitude trickles down into the attitudes of the kids. When I asked each group what they loved about theatre, the answers were all so similar. The most common answers were “The friends I make.” “The bonds that are built.” “Meeting new people.” “How no one judges me.” Hearing these responses made my heart full because those are the reasons I do theatre. The kids all chimed in on how they feel most comfortable around their friends here because there is no judgment. These kids value connection. Even in the first week I’ve gotten to see them blossom next to one another. It is a privilege to spend time with the VYT kids, and I am excited to see them grow.