Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drama At Drama Camp

One of the girls' summer camps I was really looking forward to was Drama camp. It was officially titled Song and Dance Camp and put on by the Alameda Children's Musical Theatre.

Two years ago, the girls spent a week at the Dallas Children's Theatre camp and Lula came home singing Broadway Baby and making jazz hands and really thought I might call an agent had gotten my monies worth. My hope for this year was that the girls would come out of camp with a whole slew of songs that they'd be able to perform for me and at the very least one they could audition with for Hollywood agents local productions.

So when I dropped them off for the first day of camp, I was a tad taken aback by the fact that the camp location was a multi-purpose room of a unfamiliar church vs. the reconverted department store turned sprawling theatrical space. There were also a smattering of kids v. the blond child army that attended the similar camp in Texas. And the only adult in site was the woman who waited to take my check v. the hoards of big-haired board members I had been greeted with at our original experience.

It was a shaky first step, but we all forged ahead. I became less impressed when I picked them up on the first day. And after drop-off on the second day, I decided to contact the camp director.

My main issue was that the camp appeared to being run by two teenage boys. I know this, because after asking about the "counselors" Hazel told me that she knew how old they were, that the boys told them they were 19 and 16.

After leaving two voice mail messages and not getting a return call. I quickly typed out this email:

Hi -

I've been attempting to contact CAMP DIRECTOR by phone today. I was given her cell by one of the boys running the Song and Dance camp. I have concerns about the camp.

I'm going to type out some of my thoughts and would like an adult in charge to call me to discuss.

The camp is not meeting my expectations.

From what I have observed it is disorganized babysitting by two teenage boys.

I had thought there would be theater professionals in attendance.

I had thought it would be more of a learning experience for my kids.

I'm uncomfortable with the fact that there is not an adult leading the camp.

I'm uncomfortable with the activities, supervision, facility and out door time at Jackson Park.

My cell phone is: XXX.XXX.XXXX and my home number is: XXX.XXX.XXXX.

Please call me.

Thank you,


Here is the email I received in response:

Dear Vanessa,

I am sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, I am unavailable until the end of this week, with limited e.mail access. I have forwarded your e.mail to two of our board members.

We have had NINETEEN and SIXTEEN as counselors before and have never had a complaint, (as a matter of fact, just the opposite!) NINETEEN is an adult. He is 20 years old and is a student at FANCY University. He is majoring in theatre. He has had extensive theatrical experience, in fact, his father, (who is the classic English teacher at LOCAL High School), just recently directed my daughter in an ACMT production of "A Christmas Carol", so he comes from a "theatre" family.

SIXTEEN is a teenager.....17 years old, but he has also had extensive theatrical experiences, and has performed "professionally", (he is not equity), with Berkeley Rep., the Altarena and Virago Theatre Company. He just did the choreography for our three-week summer camp play, "Thoroughly Modern Millie", and the dancing was wonderful, the parents were very happy.

Regardless, these counselors have not been working out for you. I just wanted to give you some of their background to possibly allay some of your concerns. I will be available next week and will call you then.

Thank you,

Call me crazy, but I don't think two teenage boys are qualified to run a paid camp unsupervised. (I'm not really sure what to make of the age discrepancies, but I didn't want it to turn into a fight over what the boys told the kids their ages were and what the Camp Director thinks their ages are.)I don't think a 20 and 17 year old are old enough to run a camp either. If I was hiring a babysitter in my home, maybe. But as a customer, I don't think they are qualified to lead. And even the most trained theatre professional in my opinion, still needs a specific skill set to care for a group of children all day long. I've had over 8 years of this "training" and would hardly call myself a professional. Although, I have finally grasp that if you're going to put up your hand in protest, you'd better be prepared to pull your kids from the camp. Which we did. I still have yet to receive a phone call.


Miss Know It All said...

I know the feeling. When you are expecting a certain experience, 2 teenage boys really aren't going to cut it. They may be fabulous performers...but that doesn't make them good instructors. If you wanted daycare, you would be using daycare. Even then, an adult would be at least supervising.

mrs. blogoway said...

I would want to observe what these boys are teaching... of course, I would be mad that I'm paying for a camp and then having to help supervise it... I bet they were charging you a huge amount, too. In that case, you probably did the right thing by just pulling them out and hopefully you'll be able to get a refund:-)

Dijea said...

That sound creepy. EWWWW.

mlb said...

What I LOVE is how you clearly OFFENDED her with your capital LETTERS, and how she UNPROFESSIONALLY and SNARKILY used them for EMPHASIS in her DICK RESPONSE.

Finally, a story about the Bay Area and how UP THEIR OWN ASSES people are there.

mlb said...

or are those your caps?

Rockzee said...

Good for you for giving them the what for. And WTF? Why couldn't that woman have just called you immediately. I hope you are demanding a refund.