"Create It Camp" is a first of its kind summer day camp in Union City, where kids will be able to learn all facets of the performing arts, and explore their creative outlets.
"Its free creativity and expression," said Jennifer Del Rio, creator and director of "Create It Camp." "The performing arts instill confidence and discipline [whether you want to be an actor or a lawyer]. Everyone should have the chance to participate and enjoy it."
Del Rio currently lives in Weehawken, off the Union City/Weehawken border.
Creating a camp
Del Rio developed "Create It Camp" from another project she began in Ridgewood in collaboration with a friend and colleague, when she was a teacher.
Knowing the great success in Ridgewood, and feeling that Union City had very limited after-school or summer programming of this caliber, Del Rio wanted to bring the program to her community.
"Many of these after-school programs and camps kids go to are very competitive, and society in general has become competitive," said Del Rio. "My program is not about who is the star or the leading role; everyone is a star. Everyone performs simultaneously and create a piece together."
A cum laude graduate of The Boston Conservatory of Music, Del Rio majored in musical theatre, which honed her training in dance, directing, diction, voice, acting, production, set design, and music theory. She also studied at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
The mission of "Create It Camp" is to nourish the creativity of today's youth, and build up characteristics such as self-esteem and confidence through the performing arts, whether or not it's a field they aspire to enter.
The program is open to all of North Hudson's children, who will get the opportunity to create their own theatrical productions from scripts, sets and costumes, and learn to develop songs, choreography, and directing skills.
A two-week enrollment will run $150 per week. It's $145 per week for four weeks, and $140 per week for six weeks. Payment plans can also be worked out.
Freeing the artists
The camp will take kids through a whole variety of exercises, helping them to lose inhibitions.
"The vocal exercises [help them] not to be inhibited by their own sound," said Del Rio. "In the shower you are not afraid to try vocal tricks, and I'll spend lots of time trying to see all the different sounds I can make with my vocals."
According to Del Rio, the kids will be participating in many acting workshops and improvisational workshops, using projection and diction on stage, and scene work. The kids will also be working on a collective performance piece that occurs at the end of every two-week session focusing around a central theme.
"[In Ridgewood] last year we used Aesop's fables," said Del Rio. "They developed characters existing in the fables, and it had dance, drumming, soap operas, and poetry. It's free creativity and just as wild as their imagination can be."
Just my imagination
Much of the fundamentals of character development can be learned through the study of acting.
"The simplest definition of acting is: behaving truthfully in an imaginary circumstance," said Del Rio. "They have to be thinking, who is this character, where are they going, and why. It's coming up with all the basic questions of that character."
The culinary portion of the camp will include supplies and lunch at Union City's OLA Restaurant on Park Avenue. Owner Miguel Fernandez will be teaching the students about the restaurant business from waiting tables to folding fancy napkins, and some culinary secrets as well, such decorating a dessert dish.
"The culinary arts are something to be enjoyed and explored," said Del Rio. "Appreciating the art behind your food is a good lesson for kids to learn."
In addition to Del Rio's teachings, kids will also learn their craft from various professional artists from all over the Hudson County community, who will be making guest appearances throughout the summer.
What's to come
The summer camp is only the beginning for Del Rio, who is also planning to eventually open up a performing arts services center on Park Avenue in order to provide these programs year 'round.
"I have always dreamed of having a cultural arts center [in the community], and we're doing it starting with this program," said Del Rio. "In September we will also open with a full after-school program [at Tempo De Music]. Private and group voice lessons are available immediately."
Del Rio already has a list of enthusiastic and qualified teachers for the future cultural arts center, and will also be on hand for the after school programming and this summer for the camp if necessary.
The theatre camp, which will meet at Tempo De Music studios, located at 4211 Hudson Ave. in Union City, is open to anyone from the second through the 12th grades, and will run from July 5 through August 12 in two-week sessions.
"You can come as many times as you want, and at the end of every two-week session there is a performance," said Del Rio.
Campers will meet Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.