Youngsters attending the Christian Youth Theatre camp at PBA's Fern Street Theatre perform 'Listen to the Music' during one of Friday's two shows.
|Youngsters sing and use umbrellas as props during Friday's production of "Listen to the Music."|
University Staff, Alums Spearhead Local CYT Effort
As campers rehearsed for Friday’s performances of Listen to the Music, the culmination of the Christian Youth Theater week-long camp, Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Fern Street Theatre was filled with sweet singing and creative expression. It took a bit of novel inspiration, PBA know-how and Palm Beach County community involvement to get this inaugural camp up and running.
“The novel Someday, by Karen Kingsbury, speaks of a fictional group called the Christian Kids Theater that incorporates Christian values and family into theater,” said PBA alumna Rachel Sharpe of Jupiter. Sharpe graduated magna cum laude in 2009 with a B.A. in musical theatre. “I did research and found the real-life Christian Youth Theater."
For CYT information:
Or visit the Facebook page CYTWestPalmBeach
Click here for more information about PBA's Fern Street Theatre and the university's theatre program.
As Florida did not have any CYT affiliate locations, Sharpe believed West Palm Beach could be the perfect place to start one.
“I contacted CYT and had a preliminary meeting with the administration on the phone about starting an affiliate,” said Sharpe. “Then I prayed about it for a year.”
In February 2011, she said the Lord led her to get a board together. The beginning board consisted of herself, her former theatre professor at PBA, Dr. Ann Cadaret and Patrick Moody (PBA ’76), pastor of Village Baptist Church in West Palm Beach and son of PBA founder Jess Moody. The three combined have many years of experience in theatre and theatre camps.
“We weren’t sure if there was a market for this here,” Cadaret said. “It was a stab in the dark. We knew if God’s hand was in it, it would happen.”
|'Super Moms' sold baked goods and T-shirts after the performance to raise money for the new CYT program in West Palm Beach.|
Through fundraising and registration fees of $135 per camper, CYT West Palm Beach was able to become a reality. The summer camp began July 11 lasting one week, with classes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thirty-four Palm Beach County youngsters ages 6 to 15 participated.
Sharpe serves as artistic director, and aside from the camp’s music director (whom they hired through CYT), the camp was staffed by volunteers. Most of the volunteers were mothers of campers, whom Cadaret refers to as, “Super Moms” for all their efforts assisting with the camp.
“Super Moms” like Elizabeth Maxwell Miller, daughter of best-selling author, leadership expert and teaching pastor John C. Maxwell, as well as his daughter-in-law Elisabeth Maxwell. Maxwell Miller grew up in California and participated in CYT as a youth; and she was excited for her daughters Ella, 7, and Madeline, 10, to participate. Her brother, Joel Maxwell also participated in CYT in his youth. His son John, 8, and daughter, Hanna, 10, were camp members, while he was in charge of the set lighting.
And, “Super Moms” like Cathy Hamilton whose daughters Sarah, 14, and Emily, 11, participated. “My daughters are over the moon with this,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton daughters, as well as many the campers, are homeschooled.
“This camp fills a niche for homeschooled kids,” she noted. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Sharpe, Moody and Caradet and a growing list of board members are moving forward with a CYT after-school program at Village Baptist Church in West Palm Beach beginning Sept. 12. Participants pay $190 for 10 weeks of classes, and have the opportunity to audition for a final show. CYT will also have a spring session, and will continue in their fundraising efforts.
“Parents can bring their kids here and know they’re in a safe environment,” said Caradet.