Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.

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Posted: July 13 2005 at 11:51pm | IP Logged Quote Kelly

This has been the summer for "designer camps". The kids in our local Catholic homeschool group have gone wild with custom-made camps. THey keep putting their heads together to set up camps that have been LOTS of fun, very reasonable, lucrative for the Camp Givers, and added benefit for Moms---at the homes of people we know, with kids we know. We've had or are having: Baseball Camp, Art Camp, Dinosaur Camp, Mermaids: Explore the Sea Camp..and now Shakespeare Camp!

I know I've caterwauled on-line about how I wanted to set up a Shakespeare class or something, tried several different approaches without fail, then voila...the kids have done it, and the result is very satisfying and easily doable, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

For Shakespeare Camp, one of the older girls in the group had the idea, and conscripted my 12 year old to help her with it. They got together and brainstormed. They set up camp from 9:15 to 12:15 M thru F for one week. They decided to charge $25/student with siblings being $15, so they'll even make a little money off of it! Beats a newspaper route any day! They originally planned it as camp for Middle Schoolers, but it has morphed into a 5th grade and up kind of thing. They have 17 children participating, about half of them boys, half of them girls. The camp is being held in one of the hs families' garages (with lots of overhead fans). They have a big Igloo cooler loaded with lemonade or something everyday, and at half-time have a cookie break. Very simple. They purchased books for everyone (cheap versions, that each person reimbursed them for). They chose a play on which to concentrate, in this case, Romeo and Juliet. They selected two scenes that they are doing, and handed out the parts. A few extra people are doing the intro soliloquoy, or random recitations at the end. A couple of kids only want to work on the set. It's amazing how it has worked out!

For activities, they started with learning about Shakespeare and his time, and the theatre of his time. That got the set designers going the very first day, busily painting away. The girls then familiarized the kids with the play by reading it in prose to the younger ones, then reading thru the scenes from the original text for the older ones. Everyday they've been practicing their lines. They also canvased everyone to bring costumes and they have GREAT costumes! But costume design and "procuration" continues to be a major part of the activities. THey were also able to get our fencing teacher to come over a teach Stage Combat every morning. Just by happenstance, he really enjoys doing that sort of thing, and came with experience to teach the combat scene "Death of Mercutio" from R&J. The boys in the group---as well as the girls---have entered into this activity with notable gusto.

   The girls have done other activities like a section on Shakespearian insults, another on Shakespearian Vocabulary, and have some sort of "name that quote" game lined up for tomorrow. They watched a couple of clips from Shakespeare movies, Henry V, I think (the St. Crispian Day speech) and the fighting scene and balcony scene from R&J. They've also been playing the Prokofiev "Romeo and Juliet" score that is so lovely, and plan to use it for their PRODUCTION which is Friday, followed by a light English Tea.

   Everyone, including those wild little 10 year old boys that every group has, has really gotten into the spirit of the thing, despite the fact that some came kicking and screaming to the first day of camp. When I stop in periodically to check on things (and see how the Mom who owns the house is faring ) I see children walking around memorizing lines, giggling over costumes, painting castle walls, practicing fencing scene...and an inevitable few being loud and obstreperous-but it's teaching the camp counselors that their mothers' daily teaching tasks ain't so easy! Even some of the very little kids have been picking up nuggets by osmosis. At dinner last night, my three year old---out of the blue---exhorted us with, "A plague on both your houses!" .

All in all, it has been so satisfying to see this real learning taking place, and all of it at the hands of the kids! The collective creativity of the whole group has been amazing, and what's really surprising, is how easy it's been for them to pull together. All that "adult wisdom" that I tried to pull out of the hat to do something like this, and it never worked. But this has. Just goes to show, that "a little child shall lead them"!

Kelly in FL
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Posted: July 13 2005 at 11:59pm | IP Logged Quote alicegunther

Kelly, this is truly one of the most brilliant ideas I have ever read--so simple, yet so incredible!!! What an experience for all the children, and what a great accomplishment for the girls running things, including your daughter! Everything sounds perfect right down to the fencing teacher. I'll be mulling this idea over for a long time to come.   

Love, Alice
mother of seven!

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Posted: July 14 2005 at 12:02am | IP Logged Quote MaryM

Yes, that is really amazing! It will probably be more meaningful to them than something they weren't so involved in plannning/implementing themselves.

Mary M. in Denver

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Posted: July 15 2005 at 1:28pm | IP Logged Quote saintanneshs

Wow...the things we have to look forward to!

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