OVST Youth Camp, the primary youth outreach program of OVST, entering its second decade, will continue to provide relevant, full-educational, live performance experiences to regional youth, especially those without access to performing arts experiences in their home or school life.
Development Program/Initiative Summary
Ohio Valley Summer Theater (OVST) was founded in 1951 and is Ohio’s longest-running community summer theater. For over six decades, regional families have comprised OVST’s casts, crews and patron base, including the children and grandchildren of our original founders. As OVST entered its sixth decade, the Board made a conscious effort to advance various opportunities for community members of all ages to participate in camps, workshops, and annual main stage performances. OVST remains dedicated and responsive to finding ways to include area youth in the arts and has focused on the development of programs to encourage familial relationships and create additional opportunities for youth to learn and appreciate a variety of performing arts skills.
Ohio Valley Summer Theater’s keystone youth engagement activity, the ten-year-old Youth Camp, which engages approximately 45 elementary, middle and high school students each summer. Youth Camp is a three-week immersive theater experience divided into two camps: 1) morning camp for elementary age, and 2) afternoon camp for teen students. Each camp culminates in a free, public performance for all campers, crew, lighting and sound technicians. Youth Camp participants are drawn from all area schools, the local homeschool community, out-of-town visitors, and exchange students. No previous experience is necessary to attend Youth Camp and repeat participants often advance into assistant and mentorship roles with younger and first-time campers. A unique offering at OVST’s Youth Camp is the availability of a technical theater track for students interested in all that encompasses what goes into making a staged production.
OVST Youth Camp focuses on a different theme each year. OVST’s 2017 camp celebrated the theme, “We Love to Laugh.” Instruction focused on various facets of comedy including clowning, improvisation, and sketch. Visiting professionals working in the comedy performance field, each from Southeast Ohio, provided workshops for Youth Camp 2017. These workshops re-engaged the professional artists with regional youth, trained campers, offered insight into a vibrant career choice, and offered synergies among local artists. Indeed, this highlights a central tenet of the OVST mission: to deliver high quality and diverse theatrical experiences!
What you can do
Today, in a competitive environment where increasing digital entertainment and engagement in cell and other digital devices entices youth away from interpersonal engagement and from out-of-house experiences, OVST’s Youth Camp seeks to diversify and strengthen its programming with higher-caliber exposure to the performing arts, especially from visiting professionals who were born and raised locally. OVST Youth Camp benefited materially in 2017 from a $1,500 Athens Foundation grant supporting professional artists originally from the SE Ohio region, returning with age-appropriate workshops for the Camp. OVST Youth Camp seeks similar ongoing support that brings performance professionals back to teach, enabling not only expanded career choices but overall encouragement of self-awareness and collaborative creativity inherent in the performing arts.