altSummer is a great time for kids and teens to try new things. If you have a student in your house who’s interested in theater, dance or music, this could be the perfect chance for them to step into the spotlight! Keep the following tips in mind when choosing a performing arts camp for your young artist.

• Check the camp’s credentials. There are a wide variety of arts opportunities in Louisville. To find the right one for your child, you might begin by asking other parents for references. Also, local publications like Today’s Family usually offer summer camp directories on their Web sites. In any case, make sure your camp operator has a track record of providing successful educational programs in the past.
• Small and large organizations can both offer good camps, but a lot depends on the teacher(s). Often, the best learning environments are created by instructors who are both working artists (actors, musicians, directors, etc.) and arts educators.
• Read descriptions carefully to make sure the camp is a good fit. Some camps teach primarily raw skills, with little if any opportunity to perform. Others focus almost exclusively on preparing a showcase at the end of the camp. There are camps that focus strictly on one art form, and others that combine forms (musical theatre, for example). None of those approaches are wrong, but make sure your student goes in with realistic expectations.
• Your student should also realize – especially if he’s a beginner – that he may not receive a starring role in any performance that takes place. Large or small, the onstage role doesn’t usually determine whether a child will enjoy camp! But he does need to maintain a positive attitude.
• Realize that your kids are making a commitment. Whether the camp lasts a week or a month, it’s important that your child attend every day. If she needs to miss time for vacations or other activities, a general-interest camp (like the ones offered by the YMCA) might be a better fit. The performing arts are team sports! One “player” who can’t attend rehearsals (or doesn’t learn his part) will hurt the entire group.
• Have fun! If a camper goes into the summer experience with an expectation of fun – and maybe a desire to learn something new – chances are they will love their performing arts camp. Stepping onstage is an eye-opening, self-esteem-enriching, creativity-building experience that your child will never forget. 

George Halitzka is a professional theatre artist and owner of Drama By George. He offers theater camps each summer, as well as enrichment workshops in partnership with other summer fun providers. For more information, visit