Having Fun and Making Memories at ‘The Young Americans Performing Arts Summer Camp’

“I’ve been coming to this camp ever since I was like eight, so it’s just always been a big part of my summer, and I’ve always had such great memories here,” says camp participant Elise Whitfield.

A picture is worth a thousand words– but unforgettable memories– last a lifetime.

“Other camps don’t really let you do stuff like this,” says camp participant Eli Richards. Yung Blood

And the memories made at The Young Americans performing arts summer camp make it unlike any other kids camp.

Kendra Shaw, the camp’s Coordinator says, “Performing arts is a area of interest that a lot of kids don’t really understand is their area of interest until they actually get to do it. They kind of get that chance to find their niche and there’s something for everybody.”

This is a high-energy four week camp held at Harbor Springs High School.

“Camp runs from Tuesday to Saturday and goes from 9 – 5 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then Friday night, they put on their first performance at 7:30 and then they do a Saturday performance at three, and so they just learn about an hours worth of content to perform over the course of four camp days,” says Shaw.

Kendra, Garret, and Hailey are all part of the team that ignites excitement and passion for the performing arts in kids.

Hailey Diffell, the camp’s Business Manager, shares how she got involved with The Young Americans, “I first learned about The Young Americans because I was a camper myself. The camps were really special to me because that’s where I really found my passion for music.”

“Variety of dancing we do hip-hop, we do musical theater, we do jazz stuff, we do kind of just like an all-around fun just energetic dance style with the kids. We also teach a lot of inspirational type choral songs so it will teach them how to sing together a different vocal parts,” says Tour Manager, Garrett Tozzi.

Yung 3Singing, dancing, acting– but it doesn’t stop there– The Young Americans Performing Arts Summer Camp is a chance to make new friends.

Tozzi adds, “What makes this camp so special is that it’s not just the harbor springs school, we actually have kids from the Petoskey schools, Lansing schools, Cheboygan schools, Charlevoix…We put them in in seven groups and we mix up their ages so it’s kids from third grade all the way to high schools. And then they lunch together like that every day.”

Camp participant, Elise Whitfield tells us, “Meet new people that are from other places around Michigan, and not even sometimes Michigan there have been people from like Texas and California. Radiating confidence and creating new connections– from the campers to the teachers.”

“We’re able to actually become good friends with the kids which allows us to make really good connections and put on a great show at the end of the week,” says Diffell.

And each show is so special because it *gives back* to the performing arts in the community.

Shaw adds, “That ticket money is divided between seven or eight of the local public schools and that’s specifically earmarked for the performing arts programs at the schools so it goes into things like buying rates for musicals , or dry cleaning marching band uniforms, or painting stages. So a lot of this money stays local.”

With the turnout and all the smiles– it truly shows all that hard work, paid off.

“Almost every single parent that comes to see me comes up and tells me how exciting it was and how great it was for them to see their kid grow so much in the span of a week,” says Diffell.

With a smile, camper Elise Whitfield says, “To be able to be up there and know that you worked hard for this and all your friends around you are going to be doing the same thing…Have your friends, your family, your whoever is there- to just watch you have a good time on stage.”

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