If Peter Pan went to summer camp

Spring is in the air, and for most moms this means one thing: figuring out what camp to send your kids for summer.  With hundreds of camps to choose from, “choice overwhelm” can easily set in. To make the decision easier, I thought I’d give Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids a shout-out. I happened to catch their performance of Peter Pan, and I was unexpectedly blown away.

It wasn’t that I felt like I was transported to Broadway, with slick sets, amazing stunt work, and flawless enunciation. But in its humble, homespun way, the quality truly was phenomenal. It was all about the actors, who ranged in age from 5 to 16. In fact, this was one of the company’s first performances to feature the whole theatre company as an ensemble. This is what came across loud and clear: the kids’ obvious delight in performing.  Uninhibited, they would spontaneously add dramatic flourishes—the performance felt very alive and fluid. It was crazy to think they had only been practicing since January.

I enjoyed the version of Peter Pan they chose—the British musical—and it showed me glimpses of the story that I had never before picked up on. And of course the play’s inherent message is the power of imagination. The importance of optimism and mindset for example, and giving life a positive spin: “Now, think of the happiest things. It’s the same as having wings.”

Watching with my rather reserved son, I couldn’t help imagining the skill set the theatre camp would transfer—social intelligence, confidence, bravery, responsibility and persistence. I was always a shy kid, and never had to perform, and it still terrifies me to this day. I wonder what I would be like if I had more confidence, if I could project my voice—and vision—with more pizzazz. When Jordan turns five, I’m looking forward to revisiting the idea of theater camp. I won’t force it on him, but I love what it offers.

I no longer think of theater as something just for the bold. It offers movement, inventiveness and community—all in a non-competitive environment more interested in journey than the destination. It’s all about finding one’s voice and authenticity. “Our mission is for kids to think critically, make their own creative choices, and use each other as resources for guidance and inspiration,” says the theater’s founder, Michelle Romeo. And that they have a blast in the process seems inevitable.