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      This Yellow Brick Road was Golden

      Our first summer camp of two weeks and open to all kids ended this past Friday night. We experimented with this, having only one camp rather than three separate camps in various locations of the county, and extending it to two weeks rather than one. The choice to locate it in Elkland was iffy due to transportation issues.

      Well, we ended up with 77 campers from all over the county and it was a blast. Thanks in large part to a generous grant from the Deerfield Charitable Trust many kids in the Northern Tioga School District were able to participate. The Clark Wood School under the leadership of Mr. Jess Millard welcomed us with open arms. Special thanks to the custodians who cleaned up after us for the two weeks. A free lunch program was a blessing to many. And Trish Hall from Southern Tioga offered transportation with pick-up points in Blossburg, Mansfield, Tioga Junction, Wellsboro, Sabinsville, Westfield, and Knoxville. It all worked!

      And we had a terrific team including Taylor Nickerson (of First Position Dance), Linda Iseri, Herb Johnson, Jean Cummings, Nick Duffy, Derek Young, Trevor Jackson, and Katey Pacific who kept things moving. (Thanks to Jon Ruth and Jason Gehman who helped with some sound issues and to Karin Knaus for a session.) And we had a visit from a weather person from Elmira and a hot air balloon man from Corning. Staff and campers were satisfyingly exhausted each day and came back for more the next. It was encouraging to witness kids from various parts of the county (along with Noah who traveled all the way from Austen each day!) interact and become friends. All were working toward one creative purpose.

      The production of WIZARD OF OZ was really fine. Just eight days of rehearsal—they got their roles on the first day of camp!--and they pulled it off. Fun, delightful, energetic, committed.

      I was moved and encouraged to see a number of kids who have had major roles in either an HG camp production or in their own school productions graciously accept a role in the rather large chorus. Not getting a role that one hopes for and maybe even expects is all part of the theatrical process...and just may carry over into other areas of life. These kids are learning so much more than theatrical arts.

      And let me close with a shout out to Madison Milheim who as a camper moving into 10th grade this fall is aging out of the HG camps. Maddie has been in every winter camp and some summer camps since she was in second grade. She's a caring, committed, talented young woman who seems to move through life with grace and joy. We'll miss her and hope she can plug into other HG programs in the future.

      It was one heck of good journey down the yellow brick road.

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