Something many of you know about me is that all the way into my late 20’s (yuck), I pretend to be a little kid every summer and go away to summer camp. I could give you a long story about why it actually makes adult sense, but really, I’d probably go even if it didn’t. If you’ve ever been to summer camp then you know it’s one of the best times of your life. You laugh, you cry, you spend hours trying to explain these magical weeks of your life to the outside world who inevitably don’t understand or find any humor in the inside jokes you’ve explained 5 zillion times.
What you might not know about me is that I went through a pretty serious depression in my teenage years. I was sad all the time. I hated myself, and I felt like I had the hardest time making friends. I had gone away to one camp when I was 11 or 12 that was a Jewish sleep away camp and it was….not a good experience. Let’s just say I didn’t leave with any of those warm, gushy feelings I just described, and I left with even less confidence than before I came, something I didn’t even think was possible. It’s hard being a teenager (and pre-teen) when you are significantly overweight, not comfortable socially, and feeling overwhelmingly sad for reasons you can’t even begin to explain.
It’s kind of funny–there are two places that literally changed my life. Places where I made friends, felt like I belonged, and began to discover myself (not this version of me that was taking up residence for far too long), and for the first time started to feel included in something. I now work for both of those places–something that was a life long dream. They made such a great impact that I literally could not wait for the day when I could give that back to kids facing the same struggles I faces. Those places are NSAA (my real-life job) and CGST (my summer getaway job).
As the economy has changed since I was a teenager about a zillion years ago, summer camps have become much more difficult for families to afford. I have to admit that I was incredibly lucky to grow up in a family that could afford to send me to camp and give my private voice lessons and take me to the theatre. I didn’t understand just how lucky I was until I grew up and began to see how many people didn’t have those same opportunities. In my dream world, I would be a millionaire, and I would send all the hard working, talented and wonderful kiddos I know away to have a life changing experience, but that’s not usually what happens when you choose education and performing arts as your career.
Today we are having a world wide spirit day for my very favorite place on earth to raise awareness, and spread the word about our current scholarship fundraiser. This scholarship fund can give kids an opportunity they would never have otherwise. For those of us that truly love theatre, we know how special an opportunity to take classes while connecting with other artists is, but what we may not know is how special this particular opportunity to feel safe, loved, and like we belong to a family is. I wish I could explain to you the feeling of family and community that comes along with a summer spent at CGST (and a lifetime of being a part of the community there after), but it would be like trying to explain with you the inside joke of why it will always be funny when Mac and I say to each other “Feels like an Arby’s night”. You’d just have to be there to really get it. And as far as the joke goes, we’re not that funny (except to each other), so you probably wouldn’t even get it if you were there.
Anyway, what I’m asking today is that you all help me spread the word about this incredible place and our scholarship fund. If you’re moved and want to donate a dollar or two, that’s awesome! If you want to share the info with your friends who have kids interested in theatre (they get to learn from me which obviously is the best part! ), then send the info their way, or even if you just live today with a little more openness and dedication to making others feel included–that is what this place is all about!
Here are all the ways you can show support!
- Donate to the scholarship fund
- Check out the CGST website if you’re interested in having the summer of your life!
- Like CGST on Facebook
- Follow CGST on Twitter
- Follow CGST on Instagram
- Share this post
- Be kind. As much as you can. To as many people as you can.
Disclaimer: This is anything BUT a sponsored post! The executive and artistic directors don’t even know I’m writing it. It’s just something I wanted to share because I believe so strongly in this place, and I hope to reach out to someone who loves theatre too, so it can change their life the way it changed mine.