Our new Blog is now located at http://www.centauriartscamp.com/arts-camp-blog/ from 2012!
For new families who live within easy driving distance of Toronto, we are always willing to arrange a face to face meeting, to chat about camp. Since camp is all about people, this makes sense to us – a chance for parents and potential campers to put a face to Centauri, as well as to have all their personal questions answered. New campers who meet us in this way are able to walk into camp on the first day of their session, knowing that there will be at least one familiar face, and having had their personal doubts and fears laid to rest.
But what about families who live too far away for us to meet in person? A few days ago I met with a wonderful new camp family… in Venezuela. I was pleasantly surprised by how much we all got out of the meeting, despite the fact that it wasn’t actually ‘in person’. Using Skype, the father and mother were able to tell us more about their daughter and her interests. I was able to chat with them all about our programs, and help them decide which session and which departments might best fit their needs. They were able to raise any concerns they might have, and listened as I explained in detail how we handled airport pick-ups to ensure that no child is ever missed. It was a short meeting – maybe 25 minutes – but by the end, we all seemed to have a sense that Centauri would be an excellent fit for them.
This is the first year we have really used skype this way, but we’re finding it to be hugely successful. So, if your family is considering Centauri for the coming summer and you live too far away to meet with us in person, ask us about meeting via webcam! In fact, since so many of our families and campers live such busy lives, it occurs to me this might even be an excellent solution for local families who would like to meet with us, and can’t easily find time for us to visit them in their home.
Just last week, I was honoured to be a speaker at a Tedx Event here in Toronto! In case you’re not familiar with Ted, these events bring together people with inspiring messages from all over the world, to share their ideas with a live audience. The speeches (each around 18 minutes) are broadcast live on the web, and the often appear on the Ted.com website afterwards. I was asked to speak on the subject of ‘How to Do Business Like an Artist’. I shared with the audience the story of what it was like for Craig and I to set up Centauri, and how difficult it was to find campers in the first couple of years before we had established our reputation. I spoke about how Centauri has enabled us both to spend our lives doing all the things we love – working with young people, inspiring others, designing arts programs, heading a vibrant and supportive arts community and still working on our own creative projects throughout the year. In fact, I even shared a story about camp that no one has heard before: how I got stuck in a window on the first day of our very first summer (ask me about this at camp and I’ll tell the story!)
One of the most thrilling things about Ted events is the incredible people you get to meet. There was a scientist at the event who spoke about her work with severely disabled children, who cannot move at all and have no way to communicate with the world. She has devised a way of measuring involuntary changes in the human body – such as changes in heart rate and pulse. She interprets the changes emotionally, and transfers them into pieces of music. The parents of these children used to ask her whether their children even knew they were in the room. Now, when they enter, an emotional change in the child causes an orchestra to play! You can imagine how may lives this will transform. I also got to meet a guy who designs software for George Lucas, and a very inspiring entrepreneur who has created a food recovery program, pairing big hotels with homeless shelters so that no food ever goes to waste. There was an art show which included work from young people all over North America, performance poets, and a visiting band from Shanghai. The Ted event easily qualifies as one of the most inspiring non-camp days I’ve ever had (though I also admit that for different reasons, every day at Centauri can feel as inspiring as this!).
The Tedx Event had a lot of Centauri connections! The host of the youth portion of the event was Rob S., who has been a camper with us for years. The host for the adult speakers was a camp parents who said some wonderful things about Centauri as she introduced me. Even the principal of the school where the event was held used to teach play writing with Centauri, years ago!
Of course, if you put this event together with everything that’s currently happening for camp, you’ll realise what a crazy few days we have had! In just ten days, Craig and I held two Information Sessions, opened bookings for the International Tour (which is now close to full), took almost 200 camp registrations, lived through the 2 days of the Ted event, AND held the fundraiser for our school in India! Things calmed down a little this past Sunday, though the inspiration all this has created will last a long time. What did we do Sunday? We went to see the new Mayan exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum – and we’d really, really recommend that, too!
2012 Registration Opens today (November 19th 2011) for returning campers! At 10am, registration opens online, for all returning campers! Just follow the link from the home page to the special Registration e-form, and send in your program choices. Click here for a direct link to the 2012 registration page
New camper registration opens on 25th November 2011 at 10am!
Centauri Arts Camp “Memories 2011″ video is now available! 7 minutes of video clips from programs, presentations, banquets, evening programs from arts camp 2011!
This past Sunday, close to 150 members of the Centauri community gathered at the Revue Cinema here in Toronto. We celebrated the achievements of our campers and staff as we enjoyed readings and watched movies created at camp over the past four years. Beth Follett - who really put Centauri’s writing programs on the map more than a decade ago - read from her new novel, while Chris Urquhart – who will be teaching writing with us for the second time in 2012 – was brave enough to share the first short story she ever wrote. We heard outstanding poetry and fiction by six of our talented writing campers, and enjoyed a sneak preview of Sofia Bohdanowicz’ new short movie, ‘Dundas Street’. Camper movies included ‘Five Stories’, inspired by the work of Canadian playwright Morris Panych, and ‘Boogaloo Nights’. The only glitch was a few problems with sound that the projectionist could not figure out – though the two movies in question played perfectly when we tested them at the Revue earlier in the week. Both these movies will be loaded onto the Media page of the camp website over the next couple of days, so you can rewatch them, if you wish to.
The event was successful in part because of the wonderful creativity of our campers and staff – but it was also a fundraiser! Lisa Farano – the Present of our partner-charity, Elephant Thoughts – offered a slide show at the midpoint of the Festival which illustrated the various stages in the construction of our school in Mirik, India. She also talked about the challenges of building a school in the developing world. By the end of the evening, the combined efforts of everyone involved had raised a grand total of $3,000! Since Centauri is sponsoring all costs for the event, every penny of that will go to buy school supplies for the Centauri Rosebud Academy in India.
From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to thank every member of the Centauri community who came together to make this possible. Our readers, and their supportive families and friends. Our staff, who came out by the dozens! Our own friends and family, who lovingly support us in all that we do. Our campers and our alumni, and their families. We would also like to thank the many people who could not attend, but donated anyway, to support this great cause.
In the next few months, our first students will begin their studies at the Centauri Rosebud Academy. Most are the children of subsistence farmers who would not have been able to finish their education without our school, since the only schools in Mirik beyond Grade 6 were fee-paying ones. Not any more! Our hope is that in the future, staff and campers will be able to build a relationship with our students in India, by sharing creative projects across the miles, by swapping letters, and maybe one day even by meeting in person. The truth is that our students in Mirik are the same age as our campers at Centauri, and although they come from very different worlds, they likely have much in common, too.
This event – like the building of the Centauri Rosebud Academy two years ago – truly was one community coming together to help another. Thank you all for caring enough to make this happen.
Julie, Craig, Cheryl & Aaron
Centauri Arts Camp
The Centauri Summer Arts Camp 2012 Website is now live!
Go to www.centauriartscamp.com and browse through the 43 exciting program choices on offer for the coming summer! Don’t forget, Registration Day for returning families is Saturday 19 November. New Families can reserve their space on Friday 25 November. Call us if you have any questions about Centauri 2012!
Reminder: Information Sessions this Saturday!
If you hope to find out more about our 2012 International Filmmaking tour to North Wales, join us at the Baby Point Clubhouse, 71 Baby Point Road, Toronto, at 1pm this Saturday. If you are a new family hoping to learn more about Centauri, then join us at the same location, at 3pm. Both Information Sessions will include photographs, slide shows, references, a presentation by the directors and a chance to have all your questions answered.
Centauri Festival of Word and Image is this Sunday!
Join us in Toronto on Sunday for a very exciting event, and a chance to celebrate the achievements of our campers! We will be showing several of the amazing short movies created between 2009-2011, and will feature readings by campers and staff. In addition, we’ll be offering a sneak peek at Sofia Bohdanowicz’ new short film, and Elephant Thoughts will present on what it is like to build a school in the developing world. Come support our fundraiser and experience a taste of Centauri in the Fall! 100% of ticket sales go to the purchase of school supplies for our students at the Centauri school in India. Tickets are still available for this event – go to: www.centauriartscamp.com/charities. If you’re a new family this is a great way to find our more about camp, and see what our campers get to do each summer! It’s a great cause… we hope to see you all there!
Building on the Success of Summer 2011 (and the past Seventeen Years!)
As we approach Registration Day for summer 2012, one of my jobs is to prepare an album of reference letters and thank you notes from parents and campers, so we can display this at Open Houses and camp exhibitions. Last summer, we received more of these notes than ever before.
It is certainly terrific motivation for us as we work through long hours in the office, to remember why we do what we do, and the positive effect it has on all our campers and camp families! I thought I would share with you all some of the wonderful comments we received from parents and campers at the end of summer 2011:
“My daughter arrived back last night, tired but radiant. Since then, she has done nothing but talk of the great time she had. She uses words like “warmth”, “support” “understanding” and most of all, FUN! Not a moment of boredom, regret or frustration. Tears only now for sorrow at leaving her beloved counsellors and friends.”
“His Centauri adventures prepared our son for his entry into high school this Fall. He saw how he would fit in, minus grade school stereotypes. His confidence is up, his politeness is up, his work ethic has improved and his creative side has been reignited. He was even able to practise his French with Canadian and international campers. The work your art campers produced was truly amazing.”
“Thank you for an incredible camp experience. I heard from my friend just how special Centauri is, and my son now echoes everything she said. He had a fantastic time, made great friends and can’t wait to return next year for a whole month.”
“It was a dream come true to find your camp…thank you for providing this wonderful and unique place for our children to learn and thrive.”
Centauri Arts Camp
This summer, Centauri supported a number of charities in a ‘Charity Faceoff’ at camp. One of those charities was MyUbique. Well, we’re proud to announce that last week its founder, David Stuttard, was awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his work! The MBE was presented to him by the Queen.
MyUbique is a UK-based charitable organisation that works to provide communities in Ghana with fresh drinking water. To date, 29,500 people have fresh water to drink thanks to their efforts. This is one of many worthwhile causes Centauri supported this year, and we would like to pass on huge congratulations to Sir David!
You can find out more about Myubique at www.myubique.info
It now looks as if our school project in India will be finished right about the time we hold our fundraiser! Check out the blog by Elephant Thoughts for an update on the project: http://www.elephantthoughts.com/international-projects/school-builds/india/the-centauri-school-build-blog-2/
Building in the developing world in certainly very different from here in Canada and the school has enountered all sorts of set backs, including damage caused by excessively heavy monsoons, and the appearance of a herd of pigs! Now, we’re finally nearing completion – very exciting!
This seems like a good time to remind everyone about the upcoming fundraiser – a Festival of Sound and Image we are hosting here in Toronto. The purpose of the fundraiser is to provide the students in the Centauri Rosebud Academy with writing materials, books, computers and other educational supplies.
Our festival will take place at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles, in West Toronto. The all-important date is Sunday 13 November, from 4pm to 6pm. The event will include readings from campers, alumni and our writing staff, as well as various short movies produced at Centauri over the years. We’ll also be offering a sneak preview of Sofia Bohdanowicz’s short film, Dundas Street, inspired by a poem. We’ll be selling tickets over the next few weeks – come along and join us for an exciting Centauri event, and a really great cause!
Our 2012 Dates have now been Finalised! Here are the dates for each of our sessions in 2012:
Session One: Sunday 1 July-Saturday 14 July
Session Two: Sunday 15 July-Saturday 28 July
Session Three: Sunday 29 July-Saturday 11 August
Session Four: Sunday 12 August-Sunday 19 August
International Film-Making Tour to North Wales: Session 4, then Thursday 23 August-Saturday 1 Sept.
Dont forget booking opens Nov 19th for returning campers (Nov 16th for the tour)