Area kids get PCC music camp ‘to go’ kits

Courtney Blankenship
Jadyn Thompson hands a PCC music camp to go packet to Tonya and Claire Kiley.

The annual Summer Music Theatre Camp at Pratt Community College [PCC] will not take place this year due to safety concerns with the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, however, ‘camp to-go packets’ were still provided for kids interested in staying involved this summer.

Misty Beck, performing arts instructor and theatre director at PCC, said the packets were partially funded by the Georgene Wade Charitable Fund, which provides a small grant each year to help with the camp---The grant funds for this year went toward the packets.

“The packets included a variety of acting, music and dance games, a do-it-yourself puppet theatre and puppets to make,” Beck said. “We passed 64 of these packets out to families earlier this week.”

Britt Oller, Pratt resident, said the packet exceeded her expectations, and her kids have enjoyed doing the activities each day.

“They have enjoyed each part of it,” Oller said. “They love the ping pong game, and the dice game. They have a puppet show for me that I haven't been able to see yet, but I'm eager to have popcorn, and sit back and enjoy the show.”

Chelsea Beisner, who also received the packet, said that normally, only her older two kids, ages four and six, would be able to attend the camp. With the packets being made available, however, it also allows her younger two kids, ages one and three, to participate in the fun.

"We colored and created spoon puppets for a puppet show, and then we rolled dice to tell us which animal and emotion to act out," Beisner said. "Those were the biggest hits for my family. I’m so grateful to Misty and her students for all their hard work. This was no easy feat setting this up for the kids. We have enjoyed it very much."

In other years, the camp has taken place after the Miss Kansas Competition for two weeks in June, with campers ranging in age from 3 years to just having finished fifth grade. The number of campers is usually capped around 130 or 140 and the cost is $60 per camper.

“The campers come every afternoon for two weeks and participate in music, dance, acting, crafts and games,” Beck said. “They rehearse a Broadway, Jr. show and perform it twice for family and friends at the end of the second week.”

Beck said the team felt that taking the safety and security of campers into consideration was the number one priority, so they decided to cancel the camp---Especially due to the difficulty of having a large number of participants in one place at one time.

“Once a camper finishes sixth grade, they become a junior leader, and after 8th grade, they become a leader,” Beck said. “The leader team includes nearly 30 older kids under the direction of myself and Leah Patterson.”

Beck said this would have been the tenth year of holding the camp in its current format.

“Luckily, Music Theatre International has been gracious enough to extend our rights to Frozen Jr. until next summer,” Beck said. “So, that is what we will do for next summer’s camp.”

The Summer Music Theatre Camp is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the performing arts department, so the department will be looking at other ways to raise funds this year.