Stage is set for summer camp at Riverside

by | Mar 12, 2024 | ALLFFP, Arts and Entertainment, Events, Fredericksburg, Music, Non-Profits, Stafford

Pint-sized Broadway dreams begin on stages like Riverside Center for the Performing Arts. Thanks to a recent $7,500 grant from the Duff McDuff Green Jr. Fund of The Community Foundation, even more area youth can sing and dance in Riverside’s musical theater camps this summer at the arts center without worrying about the price tag.

“It’s very heartening to see kids get the opportunity to perform and love performance,” said Susan Ingebretsen, Riverside’s community outreach chair.

Each June, campers aged seven to 17 spend their days in an intensive theater program that is more than just learning lines and dance moves. The camps help build self-esteem and confidence. Last year’s camp had 32 students participate.

“The first time a child performs on stage with the lights and sounds and everything else, it’s a pretty impressive experience, and it instills such confidence in children,” said Ingebretsen. “This grant is a boon to us this year because we are going to be able to bring more kids to camp on scholarships, some through YMCA programs and Stafford Junction. We fill our camp spots very quickly, so we are ecstatic to be able to offer it to more kids.”

Campers get two weeks of training with professional choreographers, acting coaches, Riverside staff and guests, plus breakfast and lunch daily. The end of the camp features a full theatrical production for friends and family. This summer’s campers will perform Disney’s Finding Nemo. Last year, over 400 people attended the camp’s performance of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

“Riverside is vital to our community because the performing arts breaks down barriers, it fosters cultural enrichment, provides a shared experience, and strengthens social bonds by bringing people together to appreciate and engage in the performing arts,” said Allison Mayberry, Riverside’s marketing director.

Ingebretsen said the arts center is also bringing back performances for younger audiences. “We are launching with the Wizard of Oz in May and hope to offer at least one show each semester.”

The Community Foundation awarded Duff McDuff Green Jr. Grants to five regional nonprofits working to promote recreation opportunities in the community, benefit the region’s youth and advance local historic and cultural preservation.

“It is wonderful for mental health to be able to express yourself in a safe space and be acknowledged for your creativity. Live theatre is a breath of fresh air in a world filled with so much noise,” added Mayberry.

“We are blown away by the generosity,” said Ingebretsen. “We can’t thank the Community Foundation enough for this.”

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