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BWW Blog: Life Lessons from Online Theater Camp

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BWW Blog: Life Lessons from Online Theater Camp

They say in this industry that you should never work with animals or children. I beg to disagree. This summer, I'm working as a teaching assistant at a virtual theatre summer camp, and working with theater kids during a pandemic has taught me a heck of a lot about life. Children have the most vivid imaginations and unique ways of looking at the world. I never thought I wanted to be a teacher, and now, I still don't know because they're smarter than me at everything. Attached are my main learnings from summer 2020's adventures.

To preface, let me explain how our summer camp works. Teachers and TAs are online with our campers for a few hours at a time teaching lessons and playing games. We have breaks during the day for the kiddos to step away from the screen and for us to gossip and pick favorites. Okay, time for the takeaways!

Life Lesson #1: Kids will say the darndest things.

Topics can range from unicorns to grapes to arson. This week, my middle schoolers came to the startling conclusion that "hot dogs are just meat bananas." I can't tell if I'm more concerned about that initial statement or my own emphatic agreement that, yes, hot dogs are peelable if you try hard enough. In completely unrelated news, in lieu of my next column look out for my new poll series "Tacos: Sandwich Imposters."

Life Lesson #2: Be engaging.

As counselors, our job is to keep our campers entertained. Our main form of distraction is a slew of fun, innocuous theater games. We've got the classics: Freeze Dance, Statues in the Garden, and of course, Mafia. Mafia's a cult favorite amongst the kids- essentially, one person (the Mafia) chooses a friend to kill and the rest of the group has to figure out who it is. In order to keep it wholesome, our high school camp version which I've dubbed "Mafia for Millenials" uses different techniques than the usual. Instead of choosing someone to do away with, the Mafia now picks someone to "Go Outside And Make Human Contact" or "Schedule Your Own Doctor's Appointment."

Life Lesson #3: Be patient with technology.

Even in a digital age like today, computers are fickle ways of communicating. This summer I was introduced to a mathematical equation called the Zoom Theorem to help explain tech difficulties. This states that the more yawns per child, the higher the likelihood is that they're actually playing Minecraft, not that their "screen isn't working." Variables include bad internet connection and "frozen" screens that are actually virtual backgrounds. On the off chance that the theorem fails and the kids are actually having internet problems, blame your misunderstanding on your own wi-fi!

So, does the saying "Never work with children and animals" ring true? Well, for the children, absolutely not. The animals I cannot say the same for. At least our kids would ask permission to go to the bathroom. Our foster puppy kept peeing on my rug in the middle of class.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Maggie Cummins