By: Rebekah Houpt, 2013 Head of Drama
Greetings Camp George enthusiasts! My name is Rebekah Houpt and last summer was my first experience at Camp George. In search of a summer job before my first year of University, I was fortunate enough to be offered the position of Drama Specialist for the summer of 2012 – and what an incredible summer it was! I spent my July and August teaching drama games and activities, running Chugs, and directing each session’s play with my incredible co-staff, Shari Levine. When not in the ‘Ulam’ (the building where Drama is held) running my specialty, I was in my cabin of incredible and enthusiastic Nitzotzot girls, most likely playing a ukulele.
While at Camp George I learned much about leadership and responsibility, but even more so, I was introduced to the art of storytelling. With my Nitzotzot campers, I had many opportunities to watch as extremely talented educators, including the incredible Judy and David Gershon, whom I respect greatly, would immerse the girls in stories. I realized that storytelling was very much related to Drama, and I tried to think of various ways it could be integrated into my Drama curriculum.
Fast-forward to December of 2012. I was preparing to accept my summer position in Drama at Camp George once again, and I learn of a conference – a storytelling conference – at O.S.R.U.I., a sister camp to Camp George located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With the help of Camp George two 2 months later I was on a plane heading to Milwaukee, ready to learn everything I could about the art of storytelling. Once there I was immersed in the talent and knowledge of a wide-range of professional storytellers from all across the United States. Over the course of four days I was taught techniques for storytelling, putting myself in a story, engaging children in storytelling, and so much more.
When working with Jordan Hill, one of our storytelling professionals, we learned how to completely erase any preconceived ideas, and how to trust our instincts. It was incredible listening to some of the innovative ideas that came from completely wiping your mind clean! I was also introduced to the art of puppetry when story telling. Professional Marilyn Price taught us how to incorporate puppets for comedic and other purposes. I got to learn all sorts of tips including how to properly move and speak with a puppet. We were even sent home with some ‘puppeting tools’ to practice with!
As part of our Torah study for Shabbat we worked in groups to tell the story of that weeks Torah Portion, Ki Tisa. It was there that I got to incorporate my drama skills into my group’s performance of Moses coming down from the mountain to find the Jewish people worshiping the golden calf. It was really interesting getting to work with people in that group with all different styles of storytelling!
And of course, a story-telling wouldn’t be complete without my favourite story of all! During the final evening’s open story-share I whipped out my ukulele for the telling of “47 Beavers on the Big Blue Sea,” a favourite bedtime classic in my Nitzotzot cabin last summer. I was thrilled to find that my audience of sophisticated story-telling gurus were just as enthused as campers were by the hilarious adventures of 47 little beavers!
I am thrilled to be returning to Drama at Camp George with my newfound knowledge! I promise that I will have some new tricks up my sleeve for all of the Drama periods to come!!! See you there!