NEWBURGH – “Every kid is a priority.”
Cabot Parsons exclaimed these words following Saturday’s musical production, “When I Grow Up.” Parsons, the Director of the annual summer show, has now overseen three musicals for the St. George’s Episcopal Church Voices of Hope Music Camp. Each one has had its special, memorable moments. Regardless of the exact specifics of the show, the constant of the children involved provides inexplicable joy for Parsons.
“For a lot of these kids, it’s their third or fourth year with the camp, so a lot is about seeing the growth, seeing them do more and more than they ever thought possible,” said a very proud Parsons following the show. “It can be a scary first experience, but the older ones seem to naturally take care of the younger ones.”
Hailing from the City of Newburgh, Town of Newburgh, Marlboro and Wallkill, the participants range in age from 7-14 and have the unique opportunity of honing their acting, singing and dancing talents. Perhaps even more defining is the creative means in which the shows are designed.
“The shows are great because we build them from scratch; it’s not written out,” explained Parsons. “Rather the shows are built around the talents of the kids.”
This year was no different. A “spinoff” of the Broadway hit musical “Matilda,” the Voices of Hope’s “When I Grow Up” version focused on the topic of careers. Spanning an assortment of possible job scenarios and the everyday comical details connected to them, this summer’s Review included entertaining acting, powerful singing and dancing numbers and even a very funny multi “pie-in-the face” segment! Regardless of the type of creative expression being explored by the participant, the goal of the camp is steadfast.
“The focus of the camp is to expose children to the arts,” said Lana Williams-Scott, Program Director.
And that focus is an intense one. Only having two weeks to prepare for the almost hour show, the 21 students were at work from 9am-3pm Monday-Friday. Their arduous efforts were overseen by yet another critical adult in the show’s development. Rhonda Dimmie, Musical Director for Voices of Hope since April was asked soon after spring break if she wanted to contribute to the popular summer camp.
“I said why not; I barely knew any of the songs going in, but it seemed like a fun challenge,” said Dimmie. “Seeing the changes in these kids was just so great; they were very unsure of themselves on the first day, but once that seed was planted, they really started blossoming and did an absolutely great job today.”
Zeniya Williams of the City of Newburgh was one of the Camp’s 21 members. Already “musically inclined” according to her mother Donna Davmann, the Camp really helped open her up, becoming less shy in the process. Zeniya herself, entering the third grade next month, noted the rewards of the two weeks, and was all smiles following the show.
“I liked learning about the dancing the best,” said Williams. “I made a lot of new friends here too who I can still see the rest of the summer even though the Camp is over.”
Another camper, Angelique Sanchez, returned for her second summer. Preferring the singing part of her experience, she also refined her dancing skills this year.
“Before I just played around with dancing,” said Sanchez. “Now, when I grow up, I want to be a dancer or a gmynast.”
Veteran Josh Alicia of Wallkill, who was in his third year at the camp, has had something special to cherish about each of the shows.
“This year’s show was special because it had more routines to do; I got to have two singing solos, which has really helped my singing,” said Alicia who will be entering the eighth grade in the fall. “I think kids should go to this Camp because they might discover a talent they did not know they had; two years ago I was very scared to do a solo, but wasn’t at all this summer.”
Voices of Hope Children’s Singing Choir again resumes on September 19, 2016. Open to participants ages 5-15, the practice sessions are from 5:30-6:30pm at St. George’s Church, 105 Grand Street, Newburgh. Early registration is now being accepted. Contact Williams-Scott at (845) 249-8343 for more details.