Campers take a bow

It was the last day of summer camp and time to put on a show.

The campers in the theatre group presented their version of the classic Grimm’s fairy tale Rapunzel, although this version was set in an apartment building with a laundry chute. The science group shared its recipes for slime (borax and glue tinted with food colouring) and chalk (crushed egg shells). The sports group staged football team chest slams and mimed dumping a bucket of ice water over their coach’s head in re-enactments of team victory rituals. The music group waved and wiggled to Egyptian folk music and Latin salsas. And the visual arts group brandished its big quilt for all to see.

Right: These drama kings and queens hammed it up royally in Rapunzel

“What you need is a movie camera,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden, a special guest last Friday at this end-of-session showcase by 8-to-14-year-old campers.

The one-hour showcase presentation in Founders Assembly Hall brought to a finale the third of four two-week sessions at York Youth Connection summer day camp.

For 28 years, the camp has provided drama, science, sports, music and art activities to thousands of children from the nearby Jane-Finch area or whose parents study, work or teach at the University. About 60 per cent of the 65 who enroll in each session are able to attend thanks to sponsorships and donations.

Right: This quilt shows images of camp activities and fond memories. It was made by, clockwise from lower left: Maria Lu, Natalie King, Richard Rizzo (art program specialist), Hugo Rousseaux-Bridle, Lorenzo Guadagnoli, Hailey Remkaram and Angelo Gao.

During the first week, campers participate in all activities, then choose to concentrate in two in the second week. Science has been the favourite this summer, attracting more than half the children. “I didn’t expect it to be the case, but science took the lead,” said Christina Haidner, camp director for the past two years.

This summer, the camp offered a leaders-in-training program for campers 13 and14 years old. The young teens took workshops on personal development, team building and group dynamics, program planning and effective communication, which they used to help plan fun activities for the younger campers. “It gives them an edge as young adults about to get their first jobs,” said Haidner.

Right: Campers danced to Egyptian folk songs and Latin rhythms

The camp also hands out citizenship and sportsmanship awards at the end of each session. Two Citizenship Awards go to individuals who show respect for others, participate in games, show camp spirit and help others whenever they can. The winners were junior camper Ocia Simpson and senior camper Daniel Robertson. Sportsmanship Awards go to individuals who show great team spirit, play fairly and help others succeed. They went to junior Ebony Franks and senior Cody Dujon

Most of the camp counsellors are theatre students, including Haidner, who is going into her fourth year. The camp staff draws heavily from York’s fine arts and education programs: Brenda MacKenzie, a theatre and education major, teaches theatre; Sara Musker, a theatre and education major, directs the leadership program; Richard Rizzo, who just graduated with a bachelor of fine arts, runs the visual arts group; Mariana Salazar, a theatre student from Mexico, runs the music program; Ntare Bainomugisha, who just graduated with a joint degree in social work and education, runs the sports activities. Claire Fletcher, who is studying at Dalhousie University, offers the popular science program.

Left: President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden (middle) enjoyed the show with Danielle Chateau (left), community relations officer, and Sharon Musker, a camp counsellor’s mother

The York University Alumni Association recognized Haidner’s contribution to the community – and her good marks – as York Youth Connection director by giving her the 2003 Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship in May. She is co-founder of TheatrePeace, a business that offers drama and art workshops about peace and non-violence to children in elementary schools.