Who says you have to travel to faraway, exotic places? My children learned that you can have an exciting adventure on location close to home – by attending film camp!

A couple of years ago when my kids first hinted they might be interested in attending a summer program focused on movie making, I asked around for suggestions of summer camps that focus on the creative arts. While there were a few, a colleague from my M.F.A. program, an  NYU graduate,  suggested Filmmakers Ink, which holds summer programs in Connecticut, New York City, and Massachusetts. Unfortunately my youngest wasn’t yet old enough to attend but I did have  the opportunity to talk with Patrick McCullough, an award-winning filmmaker and creator of the local summer filmmaking program. I was impressed enough to file away the information for future reference.

This year both children attended the week-long program that met half-days from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The group brainstormed the idea for the movie, collaborated on the script, and worked together on filming. They learned what it’s like to put together a movie on a budget and timetable. They learned how to use their imaginations and turn ideas into a tangible product. They learned really cool special effect techniques that they were able to repeat at home with their own inexpensive video camera.

But how can I be sure attending film camp  was a huge hit from the children’s perspective?

  • They both got up at 6:30 a.m. in the middle of summer without complaint.
  • They both failed to get into arguments or catty disagreements before breakfast.
  • They got dressed, brushed their teeth, and made their beds – without being asked!
  • They chatted nonstop on the way to film camp about what they were going to do that day.
  • They chatted nonstop on the return ride home about what they did.
  • They never once complained about going to bed on time so they’d be rested for the next day.

Filmmaking camp was definitely a hit! What I learned was that at 8 years old and 11 years old, my children benefited from the creativity and stimulating activity. Both have a strong interest in the performing arts, but the camp gave them the opportunity to exercise their minds and learn skills they can carry on into other areas. While they still enjoy camp experiences that get them moving physically, they welcomed the chance to use their creativity and work with other kids in a collaborative setting.

Maybe what’s most important was that it was fun! F-U-N! And though the end of summer is sometimes a bit of a bummer, the kids are looking forward to fall when they’ll receive their edited movies on DVD. We’re already planning a “screening” so the fun of summer camp will continue at least until the autumn leaves start to fall.