Acting Camps: Preparing Your Young Actor or Actress for Industry Success
By Mike Nelson
Helping your young acting hopeful prepare for a successful acting career can be an incredibly rewarding experience for the parent. All parents like seeing their children being creative, expressing themselves, and, most importantly, having fun.
It should be stated, however, that forcing a child to participate in any pursuit they don't like is not just counterproductive but harmful to the child. Your role, as the acting hopeful's parent, is to caringly nurture your children's expressed interests and not force them into a pursuit in order to live vicariously through them. One would have to be born under a rock to have missed some of the more public examples of what can happen when children are forced into an acting career they never wanted.
That being said, there are some very simple pointers you can follow that will have a powerful impact in the immediate sense and create long-term opportunities for the professional acting success of your son or daughter.
Start Early: Human beings, it would seem, are all natural born actors. Early in their lives, they often spend entire afternoons play-acting imaginary scenarios. Sadly, as many of us get older, we forget how much fun acting can be. By exposing your youngsters, at an early age, to the concept of acting, you are, in effect, introducing them to something at which they are already. Regardless of whether it's soccer, football, chess, or acting, childhood pursuits should always be fun. By giving your children an early glimpse of acting while they are young and predisposed to the concept, you dramatically increase the odds of their long-term success. Acting Camps provide the perfect vehicle for your children to immerse themselves in the creative fun acting can provide. What they gain from the camp experience has as much to do with you, the parent, as it does the camp itself. With the internet woven into the fabric of our lives, there is simply no excuse for parents not doing due-diligence research on any acting camp they are considering. A little research time, up front, can save you a lot of money, effort, and disappointment later.
After your children have started their first camp, make sure that they are having fun. If not, first try finding a better-suited program and see if that resolves the issue. If not, you may need to consider the fact that acting may not be of interest to them at that point in their lives. If that is the case, and the situation is handled carefully, it may well become one as they get older. Forcing the issue now will virtually guarantee that your child will never enjoy the art. If there isn't a fit, back off and give them some time. Find out what it was about the camp experience they didn't like. More importantly, find out what things (even if only a few) they actually did like about the camp. Pay attention to these answers. There is a good chance that, armed with this information, you can research other camps that may be better suited to your child's tastes and artistic needs. Find a different camp, try again next year, and until then don't push or make a big deal out of it.
Be Involved: Acting is a passion and, like flame, it needs fuel in order to burn. A parent's support and involvement has no equal as that fuel. Acting Camp is about far more than just what happens during the time your child attends. What happens before and after camp is as important as the camp itself. Furthermore, if you have an uninterested attitude towards your children's pursuits then their attitude will soon follow your own. Help them prepare for the camp experience beforehand. If you have done your research, then you are well-versed in what your children will be learning and doing. Help them feel prepared for it and they will have the kind of fun that only self-confidence brings. After Camp is over, spend a lot of time revisiting what they experienced and learned. Often, there are exercises and drama games that can be fun for the whole family to recreate. Children look to their parents for validation. Be that validation for your young actor or actress and you have armed them well for success.
Be Selective: Acting Camps are as varied as the children who attend them. Take the time to research, research, research. If your children are new to the art, look for fun-filled camps that focus more on the enjoyment of the experience than the knowledge gained. As your children progress, they will want, as well as need, more challenges for their minds. Complacency destroys drive, and an unchallenged mind can hardly avoid becoming complacent. Acting Camp should always be fun, but as your children grow they will develop a sense of pride in their craft and will be eager to take the challenge to the next level. Do your homework and be prepared to provide that challenge in their next camp.
Preparing For the Next Step: Eventually your children (and I use that term loosely here) will be ready to move on to acting school. As you have watched and participated with your children in their acting youth, you'll no doubt have picked up on where their artistic talents and drive really lie. Research schools that have well-respected programs, and degrees, in those areas. This next step is an expensive one, so doing your research here actually does pay. Just as acting camps have helped form your children's creative foundations, so acting schools will take it to that next, and this time, professional level.
About The Author
Mike Nelson is a contributing writer for an Acting Camps and Acting School resource site for current and aspiring acting industry professionals.