• August 14, 2020

Camp modified due to pandemic - Odessa American: Local News

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Camp modified due to pandemic

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Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2020 3:13 pm

With summer activities and camps being shut down due to COVID-19, Jon Murray was among those worried that the Permian Playhouse would be unable to hold the theater’s annual summer camp.

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave the green light for summer camps to resume May 31, the show was back on.

The theater got its annual summer camp underway this past week with a modified format.

25 kids from kindergarten through 5th grade are participating in this year’s camp, a half-day camp starting at 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

The kids are preparing for the premiere of ‘The Aristocats’ July 17 and will continue with shows the following weekend as well.

Murray said that the Playhouse had to cancel shows and limit the numbers of the camp during the pandemic. He added that being able to put on some sort of camp was important to him and the staff.

“It just feels so good,” Murray said. “It feels normal, or at least as much as it can be.”

Even with some semblance of normalcy, there is still the reality that the virus is still around. The camp has taken extra precautions with hand sanitizer stations and masks and staying in constant communication with parents to stay safe.

Murray added that the kids have been “troopers” through the early stages of the camp and that everyone has been on the same page with the extra safety precautions.

While taking those precautions, the kids involved are just happy to get out of the house even under different circumstances and changing habits.

“It’s been a bit of an adjustment,” said 11-year old McKenna Webb, “We just have to stay socially distant and make sure that we’re staying safe and all wearing the masks.”

“It’s nice to be out here doing something like this,” said 10-year old Piper Baker. “After this show, I’ll have been in six shows and I like this one just as much as the others.”

Getting to perform is also a relief for the show’s director, Samantha Leal. Leal is also a teacher at Milam Elementary School and has a number of kids from her classes in the summer camp.

She also was the show director for Mulan, the main summer show from last year.

“I was really excited for this after doing this last year,” she said. “I really wanted to do this for my kids, especially for the fifth graders that are going into junior high. A lot of them are in this camp so they can kind of have that last goodbye to elementary school.”

Leal added that seeing the kids happy is rewarding for her given the circumstances. Like most teachers and students, she was also expecting to come back after spring break to finish out the year. However, the kids never came back to school.

With the restart of the camp, that’s allowed the staff to provide a bit of normalcy and Leal added that she’s noticed more engagement in the kids.

She also said that it allows some of the kids to be more outgoing with not as many people around.

“There’s just a lot of eagerness,” she said. “They’re ready to do dancing and music and whatever else we throw at them. It shows me that they’ve missed interactions with each other and missed acting and theater.”

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