University Park, IL,
10:00 AM

Register Today for Virtual Theatre Camp at Governors State

As parents know, children’s creativity knows no bounds. For instance, there are days when a child would rather be a penguin that gives advice. This summer, kids will get a chance to bring those kinds of characters to life—and see them on screen—when they enroll in Virtual Theatre Camp at Governors State University’s Center for Performing Arts.

The popular summer camp will move from stage to screen with virtual sessions July 13-17 and July 20-24 as longtime camp counselors Paul and Whitney Minarik keep young entertainers’ creativity and curiosity alive by guiding them over Zoom.

Through a combination of personalized sessions, independent projects and group work, campers will create a show at home that will be broadcast on a YouTube channel.

“They need the opportunity to let their imaginations open up,” said Whitney Minarik, a drama teacher who switched her own high school theater courses from the classroom to online learning this spring.

The virtual theatre camp’s online approach will give children a chance to spend more time exploring the creative process, Paul Minarik said. “We’ve always touched on creating characters, developing a character’s voice and writing scripts, but now we’ll be able to take a deeper dive,” he said.

With camp convening daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for one week, campers aged nine to 15 will work together to create their own cast of characters, come up with a story and put on a performance, a feat the counselors have accomplished for 10 years. Many campers return year after year, and the Minariks have cherished the memories. “We’ve seen some of the kids grow up,” Paul Minarik said.

Each day will begin with an all-camper Zoom session for about 20 minutes. After that, campers will meet for a 30-minute breakout session in eight-person Zoom groups with either Paul or Whitney. Every morning, campers will see an instructional video, then spend time creating something, from props to costumes to puppets. At an afternoon 30-minute Zoom session, campers will share what they’ve made and talk about how it can fit into the final production.

Paul said it’s important to break up the day for the campers. “You don’t want kids on a screen all day,” he said.

Mindful that younger children often need help from parents when it comes to using technology, the Minariks moved the minimum age for participation to nine years old. “We want them to have reached an age where they’re as independent as possible,” Paul said.

But the mix of young and teen-age campers creates the chemistry that makes camp fun, he said. “You’ll have a younger camper who’ll blurt out a suggestion, and when I collate all the ideas later, that suggestion will tie everything together in the most hilarious way possible,” he said.

“For the older kids, it’s a chance to develop some leadership skills. But you need the younger ones for the energy and the really cute moments.”

Whitney said that whether on the stage or online, the camp gives kids a way to explore their creativity and have a good time, too. “It’s really special because it’s an ensemble, with all the kids taking part in the final production. Everyone gets their role, and it’s an opportunity to create their own piece of theater.”

The Virtual Theatre Camp is limited to 32 campers per weekly session at $125 per camper per week. To register your child, click here.