Kids with an interest in the performing arts gathered at NMU’s Black Box Theatre Monday morning to kick off a week of excitement.

Monday was the first day of the Lake Superior Youth Theatre’s 6th Annual Drama and Dreams Playscape Camp.  The week-long camp gives a diverse group of students the chance to explore the many aspects of theatre.

Campers cap off their week with a public performance of a play that they write, produce, and perform themselves.

“Every year that I’ve been here, the kids come up with the story themselves,” fifth-year camper Tara Rickard said. “We don’t actually have a story planned out when we come here. We plan it out along the way.”

“It’s a chance to explore your creative outlets, whether it’s through costumes, design, script writing, any aspect of theatre itself,” Camp Director Rob Shirlin said.

The camp also helps children improve socialization and communication skills.  Students with special needs were encouraged to enroll.

“One of the cool things that I like about having special needs students in this group is that they help me grow, as well as a lot of the other campers and counselors grow,” Shirlin said. “Their minds tend to be more free.  They have less fear.  They have been subjected to many, many things throughout their entire lives where they’ve been told they can’t do something.  They’ve already had to push through that, so theater as an outlet for them allows them to really come forth, to shine, and to show different ways that they’ve learned to communicate.”

“We try to make this a space where they can really express themselves creatively and really do their own thing, which is something that maybe those kids with special needs haven’t gotten to do as much in very controlled environments,” Music Director Paige Graham said. “So here in the theatre we just try to really allow them the creative space to breathe.”

The Drama and Dreams Playscape Camp’s performance will be on Friday at noon and is open to the public.

Lake Superior Youth Theatre will be holding two other acting camps before the summer is over.  To find out more, visit