UTEP students to teach Kids-N-Co summer camps

Kids-N-Co+is+a+nonprofit+theater+dedicated+to+exposing+youth+in+El+Paso+to+theater+life+through+classes%2C+camps+and+performances.+

Special to The Prospector

Kids-N-Co is a nonprofit theater dedicated to exposing youth in El Paso to theater life through classes, camps and performances.

Julia Hettiger, Entertainment Editor

Kids-N-Co is hosting a kinder summer camp for children ages 5 to 7 from June 13 to June 25. The goal of the camp, which will be taught by UTEP students, is to show young children the mechanics of putting on a theatrical performance and to encourage longtime participation in theater productions.

Kids-N-Co is a nonprofit theater dedicated to exposing youth in El Paso to theater life through classes, camps and performances. Stella Gutierrez, board president for Kids-N-Co, said the kinder camp is designed to introduce children to theater.

“The kinder camp is a child’s first experience with theater, not necessarily to watch, but to participate in it, and teachers go about showing the kids how to be comfortable on stage,” Gutierrez said. “They teach them how to play improvisation and theater games, which comes natural to them because they’re 5 to 7 year olds, who do that every day.”

The kinder camp will be taught by Mia Carreon, senior creative writing major, and Rachel Robins, senior music theatre major.

“We’re teaching them the basics; how to stand on stage, how to project your voice,” Robins said. “The games we’ll be teaching them and playing with them reinforce everything they’ve learned.”

The games, including one called Statue Finder, will help the participants learn about spatial awareness on stage and how to react while performing on stage.

“In this game, there’s one child being the statue finder and all the other kids are statues,” Robins said. “The statues are only allowed to move when the finder’s back is turned, but if the statue finder sees you, you’re out.”

The children will have two-hour classes for two weeks in June, and a second camp will be taught in August. At the end of the two weeks, they put on a production written by Carreon and Robins.

“What we usually do with writing is, since there’s two kinder camps, we’ll each be writing a unique play for each camp, one that is catered to the needs of that particular group,” Carreon said. “Many plays aren’t written for this age group and so we like to give the kids their own play. It’s also there so we can give each student a fair amount of lines each. No part is bigger or smaller with these kinder plays.”

Before writing the play, Carreon and Robins have to evaluate the group to get a feel for what kind of play they should write. Playing around with what the children are comfortable with and prepared for, they write a story they think they will enjoy performing.

“We have to figure out how many kids we have and what kind of story we want to do,” Carreon said. “We always want them to get a genuine theater experience when they join kinder camp. This is so that way if they start with kinder camp, they can sign up for the older camps and already have a head start on how the theater experience works.”

Their goals as teachers are to help students overcome any fear or stage fright they may have and to give them their first chance to shine on stage. Carreon said she also hopes to see the participants of the kinder camp go on to other camps, perform in other shows and join school theaters later on.

“We just want them to have fun when they come to class, hands down” Carreon said.

For more information about Kids-N-Co, call 351-1455, or visit their website at www.kidsn.co.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]