Posts Tagged centauri arts camp
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!
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
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
Today camp was transformed into a village in North Yorkshire, England, circa 1140 A.D.!
It all began last night, when we converged at campfire as the sun was setting, to hear the story of the sinking of the White Ship, and how the drowning of Prince William plunged England into civil war. Then, after a sleep-in and some free time, we set up a midsummer fayre in our village of Centaurthorpe. Campers enjoyed a village picnic, then spent an hour helping to set up the fayre attraction of their choice. Some helped a travelling ‘herballist’, creating actual ”remedies” that were used in 1140. Others set up genuine medieval board games, or active challenges. A group of campers learned to operate a working model of a trebuchet, while others learned medieval dances, practised songs, rehearsed a mummers’ play, mastered the quintain or gained skill in archery or the spear throw. Contributing to the magic of the day were 14 actor-combatants from Blackthorn Theatre Productions, who brought along medieval artefacts, gave us fight demonstrations, operated key attractions and wandered around in costume all day.
Our day was varied and exciting. In addition to exploring our self-created medieval fayre, we survived a siege, watching the actors ‘fight’ and attended a feast in the evening, presided over by King Stephen himself. The day ended with a “battle” in which half the camp fought for Empress Maud and the other half on the side of King Stephen. We finished as we started – with a story at the campfire pit. This time, we heard about the ending of the English civil war, and the restoration of peace in the land. Finally, we drank hot apple cider and ate home baked cookies, then collapsed into bed… grateful for another sleep-in tomorrow morning!Julie HartleySee more photos at http://www.centauriartscamp.com/media/Galleries/2011/index.htm
Centauri Summer Arts Camp
Session Two has ended and Session Three is already underway!
The weather was gorgeous here for presentation day on Saturday – puffy clouds, a light breeze and a blue sky. Stage Combat campers wowed us all with a retelling of the Celtic story of the White Horse of Uffington. The foyer was filled with incredible art work from the art campers, and newspapers created by the first ever Centauri Journalism camp. Our film premieres included movies created by two different film camp programs. The Orion Studio showcased an original piece of theatre by our Playwriting & Performance troupe, as well as hilarious improv scenes by the Zen of Comedy, and scenes from modern Canadian and American theatre by our ‘Acting for Stage and Screen’ campers. The Odyssey Theatre rocked with dance numbers, musical theatre pieces and original music compositions for almost two hours. In fact, the only challenge of the day was the closing of the QEW, which meant some families had a very long trip to camp, and arrived in the nick of time for the shows. Our finale included awards, a song led by our leadership program graduates, and the usual cheering, celebrating and tears of sadness as firm friends had to say goodbye.
Session Three is now underway and camp is calm and happy, after a crazy evening program last night that involved team challenges, program directors dressed as bizarre characters and countless trivia questions (how many balloons DOES it take to lift a live chicken???).
Now, in a quiet moment, I’m going over the evaluation forms we asked our session two campers to fill in. One hundred and fifty very happy campers. Here’s some of what they had to say:
“I enjoy the feeling of community and the great people I meet at Centauri”.
“My favourite programs were Backpacking around the World, and the Irish Banquet, and the Social Justice Night and also I liked all the live music and the Water Park and everything else!”
“My counsellors were SO awesome, always supoportive, always making us laugh and so great”.
“The best thing about camp is the staff, the collection of so many artists, the food and the community.”
“As a picky eater, I still found I always had a full stomach, there was always things I wanted to
“This is the greatest thing I have ever done, and I had so much fun I have to come back again!”
“I love everything here. I hope I can come back and I hope one day I can work here.”
And now, the second half of the summer is underway!
Check out the photos at http://www.centauriartscamp.com/media/Galleries/2011/index.htm
Julie & Craig
The Centauri Information Session was a HUGE Success!
This Saturday, dozens of parents, campers and potential campers joined us for a very special event in West Toronto. It was an Information Session about camp – but with a difference! This year, instead of just telling all the families how awesome our staff are, we decided to SHOW them! Gillian Sze ( our session 3 Poetry and Prose Program Instructor) came in all the way from Montreal to offer a reading from her brand new book. She talked a bit about being a writer, and teaching at Centauri, and read several poems before signing copies for families to take home. Ian Walsh (our session 1 & 2 Stage Combat instructor) then offered a Stage Combat demonstration with his partner, Duane, out in the sunshine. Summer felt very close indeed as we sprawled on the steps outside the clubhouse and watched him demonstrate unarmed combat for the stage, and show how actors use broadswords. Finally, we moved back inside for the actual Information Session, where we did what pleases us most in the world – tell families abut Centauri and how much we all love it! Several campers booked to join us in the summer before the day was over, and we also had a chance to say hi to a few campers from past years – thank you to all of you for sharing the day with us… and we’ll see you again in a few short weeks!
Centauri Summer Arts Camp
The 2011 Programs are now up at www.centauriartscamp.com
Check out all our new exciting arts Programs for 2011 and new session dates!
Saturday 6 November 1pm – New camper Information Meetings
Do you have questions about camp 2011?
3pm – International Tour information meeting
Sunday 7th November 11 am – BOOKING OPENS FOR THE 2011 INTERNATIONAL TOUR TO ENGLAND.
Saturday 13 November – BOOKING OPENINGS FOR RETURNING CAMPERS & SILBINGS FOR CAMP 2011!!!!
Wednesday 17 November - Booking opens for all New Campers. Tell all your friends!