UH Kids' Camp Returns for Summer Encore

The future generation of chart toppers and screen idols will be in training this summer.

Thanks to the University of Houston, Houston elementary students are taking the stage at the Deluxe Entertainment Camp for Kids (DECK). This fun and informative event runs  through June 25 at E.O. Smith Elementary School and introduces students to acting, dancing, puppetry, storytelling and music.

Funded by a $260,000 grant from the Houston Endowment, UH's School of Theatre & Dance is working with Houston Independent School District (HISD) to present this camp. This is the second year the university and HISD have collaborated on DECK.

"Students are able to learn new skills, share in the experience of theater and work together in a show," said Beth Wallace, DECK program manager.  "The skills they acquire transcend from the field of theatre.  Skills of creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork, focus and concentration are needed in school and in the workforce.

Approximately 200 students from E.O. Smith, Atherton. N.Q. Henderson and Crawford elementary schools will attend this year's event. Guided by teaching artists from UH and HISD, these young performers will work on projects inspired by Aesop's Fables. On June 25, students will showcase their talents for their parents and teachers during a special performance.

DECK also will provide students the unique opportunity to visit UH, tour the School of Theatre & Dance and visit Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of UH.

"Last year, we brought DECK students to UH as part of a field trip to show them a working theater space," Wallace said. "For most of them, it was their first time being on campus. They were amazed at how big it was and were able to view college in a new light. It expanded how they perceive college and the possibility of attending college in the future."

The $260,000 grant from the Houston Endowment is a milestone for the UH School of Theatre & Dance. It is the largest in the school's history and has supported initiatives to develop performing arts programs at participating elementary schools.

UH's School of Theatre & Dance has an extensive history of introducing adolescent audiences to the art of theater. Its most recent outreach program, Theatre for Young Audiences, presents plays for students in area middle schools and provides educators with lesson plans based on its productions.

The school also has developed a unique summer graduate program designed to bolster the talents of theater educators. This 36-hour program is targeted toward middle and high school theater teachers and offers them an opportunity to pursue a master of arts in theatre.

To learn more about the UH School of Theatre & Dance, visit www.theatredance.uh.edu.