Life in the Spotlight: 3 Arts Camps for Kids

Does your child love being in the spotlight or dream of being part of a theatrical production? These camps are perfect for those who have a passion for the arts. Not only will children enjoy an unforgettable camp experience, but they will also benefit by learning from theater professionals and performing on a real stage.

Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts

Harand Camp celebrates its 61st season in 2015. The camp’s motto, “No Man is an Island,” personifies its belief that there’s a role for every child, regardless of skill level. Each camper finds a time to shine during the camp experience. Campers spend half the day in theater classes (singing, dancing and acting) and the other half of the day in electives of their choosing such as sports, art and film. Evening and weekend activities may include a talent show, day at the beach or costume ball. Around 150 campers stay in dormitories on the Kenosha campus of Carthage College, overlooking Lake Michigan. Three- and six-week sessions are offered, and first-time campers can try out a special one-week session to get a taste of camp life. Each session culminates in a large-scale performance for friends, family and alumni in a state-of-the-art theater, with past productions including “West Side Story,” “Legally Blonde” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

Ages: 7 to 18
Location: Kenosha, Wisc.
Contact: 847-864-1500

Second City Summer Comedy Camp

Work the stage where some of comedy’s biggest stars got their start. Campers hone their skills in sketch comedy and improvisation, while learning the fundamentals of comedy and developing their own self-confidence in the process. At Second City Summer Comedy Camp, students are grouped by age and can choose from a variety of courses—everything from classic “Improv” to the more specialized “Creating Digital Shorts.” Choose from one- or two-week long sessions, with the two-week sessions culminating in a performance for friends and family. Students also enjoy a special performance by The Second City National Touring Company and an end-of-camp pizza party.


Ages: 8 to18
Location: 1608 N. Wells St., Chicago
Contact: 312-664-3959

Brant Lake Dance Camp

Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, Brant Lake Dance Camp was founded in 1980 by Sharon Gersten Luckman, former executive director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Brant Lake is truly for the girl who loves to dance, and with just 50 campers, it creates an intimate environment where lasting friendships are created. A camp session is four-and-a-half weeks long, and each day, professional dance instruction is paired with traditional camp activities like watersports, arts and crafts, campfires and co-ed socials with the neighboring boy’s camp. Accommodations include carpeted cabins within a spacious main lodge, while dance classes take place in professional rehearsal studios. Campers perform weekly on stage, in addition to a showcase performance that takes place in the last days of camp. Students also experience various day trips such as an excursion to see a New York City Ballet performance or an overnight stay in Montreal.

Ages: 11 to 16
Location: Brant Lake, N.Y.
Contact: 518-494-2406

Lookingglass Theatre Summer Arts Quest Camp

Over the course of two weeks, students study physical theatre (storytelling through movement) and acting, and create an original play to be performed on Lookingglass Theatre’s main stage. Some of this summer’s productions will include “Peter Pan” and “Around the World in 80 Days.” During a typical camp day, campers take classes in physical theatre and acting. Physical theatre can include circus, tumbling, juggling, stage combat and shadow puppetry, while acting class includes ensemble-building, skill development and writing/adaptation. Students write original scripts based on the session’s production and put their newly learned physical theatre skills to use during their final performance. “Each session accommodates up to 40 students, and with a high rate of returning families, this program almost always sells out!” says Lizzie Perkins, Lookingglass Theater Company’s Director of Education.


Ages: 8 to 14
Location: Fourth Presbyterian Gratz Center, 126 E. Chestnut St., Chicago
Contact: 773-477-9257, x.104

Stagedoor Manor

Some of Hollywood’s brightest stars are alumni of Stagedoor Manor (Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr., and Lea Michele to name a few). Located in New York’s Catskill Mountains, 240 campers from all over the world participate in daily performing arts classes in addition to recreational activities. Some of the unique theater classes include Audition Technique, Directing and Playwriting. Students will also enjoy Master Classes taught by noted Broadway, TV, and film performers, and workshops with agents, managers and casting directors. Evenings may include outdoor movies, dance parties and even an open-mic coffee house. A summer at Stagedoor Manor is composed of three sessions, each three weeks long. Campers stay in a former resort hotel, with three to five kids in each dorm-style room. Sessions culminate with various full-scale performances in one of eight indoor and outdoor theaters.

Ages: 10 to 18
Location: Loch Sheldrake, N.Y.
Contact: 845-434-4290

Interlochen Arts Camp

Nearly 2,600 campers from all over the globe flock to northwest Michigan each summer to immerse themselves in performing and visual arts classes taught by industry professionals and university professors. During a one-, three-, or six-week session, students choose a specific major, such as dance or music, or sign up for General Arts, which encompasses all of the fine arts. In addition to their major, campers take electives to explore other areas of interest and participate in recreational activities like boating, archery or arts and crafts, as well as trips to the dunes or beach. Programs end with a performance or multiple performances, while orchestra students may perform weekly.

Ages: Grades 3 to 12
Location: Interlochen, Mich.
Contact: 800-681-5912