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Many area performing arts camps available to entertain students, community

Dal Segno is Northern Valley Youth Orchestra’s summer program for students in tenth grade or younger.

The region’s growing arts communities allow people of all ages to enjoy the talents of our brightest entertainers. With so many performing arts camps in the area, summer allows children time to hone their musical and theatrical skills as they build friendships and gain experience in the world of community theater.

 The various programs in the region can easily accommodate any student based on skill, talent, age and interest.

Youth orchestra

 Dal Segno is Northern Valley Youth Orchestra’s summer program for violin, viola, cello and bass players, aimed at students at the high school sophomore level and younger. The camp strives for a fun atmosphere as students play in the orchestra and small ensembles, learning new musical concepts and challenging each student’s instrumental knowledge and abilities. 

 “They find that it’s fun to get to make music with their friends and have little breaks for socializing time,” says Naomi Welsh, Dal Segno program director. “It is work, but it’s fun work.” 

 The camp will be held Aug. 11 to 15 and costs $90 before June 1, which includes instruction from area music professionals and graduates, use of music and a camp T-shirt. Enrollment after June 1 is $100. 

 Students in seventh grade and younger will be placed in the intermediate camp, which is held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The intermediate camp takes musicians who are confident in reading sheet music and performing basic scales to the next level by playing in small ensembles with more advanced music. 

 The advanced session is held in the afternoon from 12:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. for students in tenth grade and younger. To be in the advanced group, musicians are expected to have some chamber music experience and meet the intermediate camp requirements. 

 Intermediate and advanced campers will need to audition for directors Welsh and Robin Riveland, who will then place musicians appropriately into their chamber ensembles for the camp. The auditions are held June 12 and 13. 

 Campers with little instrumental experience should not be discouraged, however. 

 “We’re offering a new option this year for students who may not have as much playing experience and just want to be able to play their instruments before school gets started,” Welsh says. 

 The new Prep Orchestra Program Summer Orchestra is open to all students in grades seven and under who have played for at least one year, can read music and are looking to get instruments tuned and ready for the school year.

All sessions are held at the University of North Dakota Fine Arts Center, which has space suited for the weeklong program and the final concert, held on the last day of camp. 

 “We see a lot of return campers,” Welsh says. “We also see a lot of interest in continuing into our school-year program for all age levels through high school and into college.” 

 The program held throughout the school year is audition-based and begins just after the summer program. 

 Dal Segno is the perfect segue into the school program and keeps those instruments warm for the upcoming year.

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Performing on the prairie

 Out on the prairie, Nelson County Arts Council holds the Stump Lake Fine Arts Youth Camp, which gives third to 12th graders the opportunity to showcase their artistic abilities, while soaking up the sun as they rehearse for the final performance and art show at the end of the camp week.

“The program has been going for about nine years now,” says Director and President of the Nelson County Arts Council, Debra Hensrud. “We started out very simple and went to local performing arts.”

From Aug. 4 to 9, students are encouraged to join both the morning and afternoon camps that intertwine the talents of artists and performers together with the guidance of local artists, proven to be outstanding in their field. 

 This year’s theatrical performances will include Goldilocks and the Three Pigs for the third to sixth graders, and Wizard of Oz for the seventh to 12th graders. Rehearsals take place at Stump Lake, and the productions are held on Saturday afternoon. 

 While many kids from the area are drawn to the program, Hensrud notes there are plenty of campers who visit from all over the U.S. 

 “We bus kids in from several different locations within Nelson County,” she says. “We’ve seen people from Minnesota and Texas, usually because they have a connection to the area with grandparents and aunts and uncles.” 

 The bus runs throughout Nelson County, offering a ride to and from designated pick-up and drop-off locations, for a fee of $20. 

 With art activities in the afternoon, students have a full week ahead of them, and some parents can stay close Summer Orchestra is open to all students in grades seven and under who have played for at least one year, can read music and are looking to get instruments tuned and ready for the school year.

with a camping experience all their own. Hensrud says parents often come to stay at the Stump Lake campgrounds for the week, which helps ease the nervousness of some campers who don’t like to be too far from mom and dad. 

 The price for a full day of camp, which is highly encouraged and includes both visual and performing arts is $70. Lunch is available from the Stump Lake café for $4 per day, or the camper can bring food from home.

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Immersion into theater

 When one week is just not enough for kids this summer, the Grand Forks Summer Performing Arts program is an option. 

 Since 1988, SPA has grown from mere tens of students to thousands, ranging in age from 5 to 17. 

 Elementary SPA for grades K-five is a two-week course, exploring drama and theatrics through games and group activities. 

 The middle school SPA program for grades six and seven is a four-week session, taking basic theatrical and musical knowledge one step further by perfecting the natural talents of the students and preparing them for the more intense high school program. 

 High school SPA is for grades eight to 11 and runs two months. At this point, vocal ensembles, drums, theory, dance and the technical aspect of stage production are taught and expressed in the final production at the end of the summer.

  A sure way to keep students of all ages involved for weeks during the summer, the program offers a stage for everyone to show their talents while performing full-scale productions. In keeping with SPA tradition, after the final performance curtain call, one final musical performance of “I Sing the Body Electric” is performed. As the entire program assembles on stage, one senior and one new member are selected to sing solos for the “passing of the tradition.” The program has an uncanny ability to highlight the inclusion of all students to create one large, spectacular group effort. 

 Vocal lessons and theatrical guidance are provided by area professionals from school teachers and vocal instructors to past SPA participants.

  The program strives to “provide high-quality arts education for all of SPA’s participants,” and “promote and educate students on lifelong skills such as teamwork, cooperation, conflict resolution, tolerance and good character.”

  As an added bonus, students are guaranteed to leave the program with a strong sense of family, as they become another member of the arts community.

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