Archive for category Centauri Arts Camp
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!
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
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)
Some lovely letters!
As always, this summer ended for us with a flood of thank you letters… notes from parents and campers filled with excited praise for the Centauri summer experience. We thought we would quote a few of them here. We’ve removed identifying phrases and names, out of respect for privacy:
“We would like to thank the entire Centauri team for an incredible two weeks. Our daughter was bursting with positivity in all her letters and calls home. She loved the program and made wonderful friends… her experience was an unequivocal success.”
“Oh my goodness, who was the child we picked up from camp? We sent a shy, reserved child to you and returned with a child who was bubbly and excited and hugging – yes, hugging – his cabin mates goodbye. He was so excited about what he learned, and the new found confidence in his abilities, that he talked all the way home about his adventures.”
“Words cannot express what you guys have created… what you have done for kids, my daughter and the world… you have the world’s greatest staff.”
“I thought I would write a quick note to tell you how very much our son enjoyed your camp. His siblings are involved in sports and he is not interested, so sometimes he feels he doesn’t fit in. At Centauri, he met so many like-minded people. It was wonderful to see what he feels passionate about and what he is good at.”
“I really enjoyed the performances, and my daughter enjoyed Centauri even more! She is already saying, “it’s the best!” and “I am going back next year!”
“Thank you so much for letting me come to camp again. Your camp has changed my life and you have given me self worth and a sense of belonging.”
You may all be aware that two of our film Program Directors – Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas – have directed a full length feature film “Amy George” that is currently playing at the Toronto International Film Festival to excellent reviews. In a recent interview with the Canadian Jewish News, Yonah stated that it was during his first summer at Centauri that he caught the film-making bug. “Centauri created an environment that really fostered my creativity.”
Centauri Arts Camp
At Centauri Arts Camp, our LITs (Leaders in training) give an inspirational challenge/talk to the camp each session. In session 3, one of our LITs, Jenny, gave a great speech that we felt would be great to share…
It seems that, for most of my life, someone always wants to explain or excuse my failures. I have ADHD, so obviously I will never focus long enough to create something of my own. I have a Learning Disability, so obviously I will never succeed. I have Social Anxiety, so obviously I will never be a leader. I often wonder whether being diagnosed with something helps me accept my personality, or if it just gives me an excuse to be less than I am.
So if I could say anything to the people who doubted me, who looked down on me and made me feel unintelligent, I’d want to say… Thank-you.
Without these people, I wouldn’t have felt the need to prove myself. I would not be an LIT, speaking in front of all of you (the camp). I would not be an honours student, attending University in the fall. I would not have written a full-length novel of my own.
So the next time you feel down about yourself, I want you to think about all the things you are proud of, and I believe everyone here has a lot to be proud of. You are here, for instance, with friends, creating for something you love. You are dancers, actors, singers, writers, directors, musicians, artists. You have a passion, and that’s not something everyone can say. Never let anyone undermine you, or make you believe that you can’t be the best you that you can be.
What I want everyone to do now, is to write down something you’re proud of, and stick it on your shirt, or somewhere everyone can see. And remember, don’t strive to prove your enemies wrong; strive to prove yourself right.
Jenny, L.I.T, 2011
It has been a busy few days here at Centauri Arts Camp. On Sunday night we had our Irish Banquet, complete with Aaron Solomon, one of camp’s favourite musicians playing traditional Irish Songs and fiddle (accompanied by Ian and Craig!). Each dorm had a leprechaun and had a series of challenges to keep the witch from taking one! Unfortunately the largest leprechaun was taken! The evening finished with Julie telling a traditional story and a beautiful ballad by the counsellors to win the leprechaun back from the Witch!
Monday night the Elwins came down for their 2nd year, to play for everyone. Within minutes everyone was dancing!
Tuesday, we had a lazy morning (and clean up!) followed by a visit to the local waterpark to cool off and then in the afternoon workshops, with special guests, The Samba Squad and Preetam Sengupta. Then the LITs ran a great murder mystery dinner at the fundraiser for Hartford Nedley (Ned)!
Centauri Arts Camp
Yesterday was one of our big festivals of the summer – one that our campers and staff look forward to all year. Basically, campers are divided into theatre copanies which include writers, directors, musicians, actors, set designers, choreographers, dancers – and they create an original piece of theatre and rehearse it in just 8 hours! The idea is to empower all the campers to take creative leadership roles and to make something happen from inception to finished product, with staff there only as advisors. For many of our campers, this is their first time literally in charge of something creative. This was an incredible, unbelieveable day. Firstly, five writers spent three hours working on their plays. Each script was more than 20 pages long and they were all wonderful. Then, yesterday morning, campers began work. We had a comedy, drama, musical, environmental theatre piece and travelling troupe, all beign rehearsed throughout the day. Creations included original music and dance choreography as well as lighting design and set painting. There was something for everyone, and since all campers were in air conditioning for part or most of the day, the effect of the heat was negligible. At 7pm last night, performances began. Our guest adjudicator was the Toronto-based director and actor, Mladen Obradovic. By 9.30pm we’d laughed, cried, clapped, cheered and been utterly astounded by the talents and the achievements of our campers. The day ended with team photographs, a mass clean up (!!) and popsicles for everyone before we collapsed, happy and exhausted, in our beds. Check out our website for photographs of the plays in performance and also for video clips!