Theatre Camp Online or Back to Normal?

Written by Adrian Cohen
Just like everyone else we have been discussing the possibility of going back to “bricks and mortar” programs or staying online for summer theatre camps.  It’s a topic everyone who runs or attends summer camps has been grappling with. And because we’ve reached a “half-way house” situation, where our country is now opening up but we still know so little about the coronavirus; where deaths are going down, but infections are rising; and where Dr. Fauci is very concerned for a major reinfection in the winter – it all adds up to confusion and concern. 
Meantime, I’ve spoken to many parents who haven’t organized anything for next week when most schools start summer vacation.
The challenge for theatre programs with a performance is: how do you keep children safe and socially distanced at a theatre venue, in confined spaces backstage, or even in a dance class or rehearsal? I don’t know if you’ve noticed but children will not voluntarily keep their distance, and who can blame them.
We at Upstage have come to the conclusion that all our theatre camps will be live online for 2020. They will be heavily staffed so that parents will have the duration of the camp (9am-12pm for 5-9 yrs. and 9:30am-2:00pm for 10-14 yrs.) to get on with their own work without the need to supervise their kids. This was something I know we dreamed of in our own household as home-schooling became a full time occupation during the last three months. 
Much of the time during our online summer camps will be spent completing “at-the-moment assignments” where kids will be away from their screens completing an active task. We will also be using one-to-one teaching in a breakout room if any child needs to take a break away from the group.
That’s the theory, what could possibly go wrong? We’ll find out soon enough as we start High School Musical and Wicked next Monday!