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Lights…Camera… Facebook Live action

On a trip to New York this weekend I walked by the Broadway theaters I used to love attending and found myself trying to open the doors of the still-closed buildings. Growing up, I was lucky enough that my Grandma loved to take me to as many shows as possible, which usually meant any and all of the shows that had a great sale on TKTS. That is something I have throughoully missed in the past year and a half and am eager to get back to as soon as I can. While the main stages of Broadway may not be open yet, Pingry campers are already delivering the live theater we have all been craving. The theater will not have ended there as the summer art programs for high school students and kids have only just begun. Not only will we get to see these performances and the art the Pingry day camps create but we also will watch as campers learn, grow, and come into their own as cast members and performers.

Throughout my own camp and high school years I spent the majority of my extracurricular time participating in musical theater, choir, and any other arts programs I could get my hands on. Being a part of a cast, usually as an ensemble character, was an incredible journey filled with a bunch of triumphs and tribulations and so many moments that I look back on now as dramatic, hilarious and truly transformative. Our cast would rehearse for months and months just to perform our show two to three times. Those times felt like precious, giant experiences that I can truly remember and feel as if they happened yesterday. If we didn’t get it perfect in those couple of performances, for a moment, it felt like the end of the world for everyone in the cast. These are some of the dramatic moments I look back on and chuckle.

While this might seem like a lot of pressure for teens, it was the best and most fulfilling feeling when we finally completed the performances. The process of learning that every performance was not going to go exactly as planned was difficult but overtime it became part of the fun of performing. This built up resilience in me and deeply challenged my type A personality in the best way possible. Being a member of a cast created an intentional community for me that helped to form my identity and gave me a sense of belonging. Every person, no matter their contribution, was needed to execute the performance and forced to step out of their comfort zone to do so. For most people, performing takes deep courage and bravery that can be difficult to tap into. The development of these skills are essential for critical social emotional learning.

This year Pingry has many different camps and summer programs dedicated to the arts. In a unique year these programs are getting more and more creative. At the end of June a group of talented campers performed Willy Wonka at the Basking Ridge campus. Not only was this one of the first live performances but it was also the first ever Facebook live experience. Pingry’s first ever Facebook live experience went off without a hitch and with enough likes to emulate real life applause. In just five short days the Pingry arts experience campers put together a truly memorable and captivating experience. As a cast of K through 8th graders, campers of all different ages came together to tell the story of the world famous candy man and his chocolate factory. Not only did they all audition, practice, perform but they also created all of their own sets, props and costumes. Those Oompa Loompas showed us all just how talented green haired, chocolate craving, Kindergarteners are. But the performances are not done for Pingry summer camps! Whether it is a summer camp for kids or a summer camp for teens, drawing, dancing, singing, or acting there is still time for amazing arts summer programs. Just this week different groups of campers began their journey with our Cartoon Collaboration and Summer Clay – Ceramics camp. I for one can’t wait to see the masterpieces that arise from these two courses and from all the Pingry summer 2021 arts programs.