Speaking as one whose Christmas tree is still up in mid January, I know it seems early to fret over summer camp. However, my friend Christa emailed earlier in the week asking if I knew of any acting-oriented camps I could recommend for a friends’ 13 year old daughter and before I knew it the OCD researcher in me kicked in.  My reply became rather lengthy and was taking some time to type up to the extent that my daughter finally asked, “Mom, why are you researching this instead of that girls’ mom?”  While I don’t have a good answer for her, the upside is that I now have a relevant, ready-made blog post and it’s jump started our own summer camp plans.  Listed below are a few camps, each radically different in their content and approach but all highly regarded. Fair warning: you may experience sticker shock.

Lee Strasberg Youth Theater Program has summer sessions here in Los Angeles and in NYC.  Jordan attended the two week camp in Manhattan and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The kids learned Strasberg’s technique, sense memory, audition skills, dance, movement – a smattering of skills.  We were living on the upper east side at the time she attended so it was an easy choice for us in terms of location.  We’d hop into a cab each morning, drop her off, then I’d walk a few blocks towards home then break down and catch a cab back to 65th Street.  Not all the campers are local though – we met families who traveled daily from Long Island and New Jersey – just for their children to participate. We met a few others who were actually staying in nearby hotels for the two week intensive – a real show of dedication I’m not sure I could muster. Not including accomodations and travel, this camp was really reasonable – about $100 a day which is the going rate for most day camps in metropolitan areas.

Another wildly popular camp is Electric Youth which provides the complete singing, dancing, and acting camp experience. With a heavy focus on singing and recording, it’s like the “American Idol” of Summer Camps created by none other than Debbie Gibson (yes, the 80’s pop star) and is guest taught by a myriad of celebrities.  If you choose this camp your child will be exposed to a lot of industry kids, so be prepared.  We first learned about EY while on an audition for the Kate Perry Video “Hot & Cold.”  A teen girl, whose uber-cool outfit we were all admiring, had just attended and was raving about it.  And of course I’m completely intrigued with their “Momager 101” class taught by Debbie’s mother Diane. Not kidding. I’ll be doing a full post on this power house camp soon.

The top “Film” camp is hosted by New York Film Academy at Universal Studios, but has locations in NYC, LA, London and Paris as well. NYFA touts illustrious campers like Steven Spielberg’s son.  Face it. if it’s good enough for the kid of this years Cecile B. Demile award winner, it’s probably good enough for yours.  This program offers camp for both film makers and performers but my take is that if you’re going to coulgh up the dough to attend, the technical film camp is the way to go here.

The last camp on my short list is a sleep-over camp held at a well-respected performing arts academy near Temecula.  The annual academy tuition runs about 28K per student non boarding and about 45k boarding.  I don’t know what the camp fees are but I’m guessing this camp doesn’t come cheap.  From what I’ve gathered online this program provides a more traditional overview of the arts including theater, music and dance.  If the price tag hasn’t scared you away yet, their web site is http://www.idyllwildarts.org/

Additional posts on summer camps for show biz kids are on the way. If you have a top camp you’d like to recommend, please contact us and we’ll post them here.