Monday, March 21, 2011

Registation Now Open for Hands Together, Heart to Art: Summer Camp for Children Who Have Experienced the Death of a Parent

Now that spring has officially sprung, Chicagoans can dare to dream of stirring from hibernation as we get a little closer to the illusive Chicago summer. I am one of those “live for summer” people so the arrival of spring means we’ve actually turned a corner. I happen to think all the best things happen in the summer months: acceptable overindulgence in ice cream, my birthday (though that one gets less and less exciting for some reason), street festivals, running in 5ks, taking in a leisurely glass or two of a great sauvignon blanc, and attending shows like the Beach Boys and The All New Original Tribute to the Blues Brothers™ at the Auditorium Theatre. Yet, even with all the fun I have during the summer months, the thing I find most enjoyable, most exciting and most challenging about my summer is Hands Together, Heart to Art (HTHTA) camp run by our Department of Creative Engagement.

I’ve had many years of experience working in all sorts of camps, but until I became the Camp Director of HTHTA, I don’t think I understood just how powerful a camp could be. HTHTA is a two-week, non-residence arts camp designed for children ages 7-14 years who have experienced the death of one or both parents. We are a truly unique camp for truly unique kids. Our campers participate in small group activities facilitated by professional healing counselors where they are able to express and share their feelings in a safe time and place. Simultaneously, campers develop self-expression, emotional growth and communication though participating in performing arts classes. Before attending HTHTA, many of our campers have never interacted with other children who have experienced a similar loss. HTHTA helps campers understand that they are not alone in their experience and situation – and that is a very powerful tool.

Did I mention that we have a lot of fun too? Campers and staff members alike make great friends, try new things, act so silly and laugh so hard that their faces and tummies actually hurt. There is something really magical that happens at HTHTA - something that rarely happens in a school setting and is unique to the participants engaging in the experience at that moment. For kids who can sometimes feel isolated and alone, the work we do at HTHTA is not only important to their healing, but it helps kids learn team-building, grow self-esteem, consciousness and problem solving skills.

As we approach our seventh summer, we are pleased to announce that registration is now open! This year’s camp will be held in two sessions: July 5-15, 2011 (for campers ages 7-11) and July 18-29, 2011 (for campers ages 10-14) at Roosevelt University. Please help us extend the healing power of creative play® by referring appropriate children to our program. If you know of any children who have suffered the loss of a parent and can benefit from this program, please share this information with that child’s guardian. Applications (in English and Spanish) and forms can be viewed and downloaded below. There are only 90 spots for this camp and enrollment is based on a first-come, first served basis. If I can answer any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at nlosurdo [at] auditoriumtheatre [dawt] org.

Nicole Losurdo is the Hands Together, Heart to Art Camp Director and the Auditorium Theatre's Senior Director of Education.

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