Huntington to host Summer Theatre Youth Camp

Huntington, Ind.—Are you looking for a different kind of summer camp? This coming July the Huntington University Department of Theatre Arts will host its inaugural Huntington University Summer Theatre Youth Camp. From June 26 to July 21, campers ages 6 to 15 will learn basic theatrical training from theatre professionals and perform a fully produced musical theatre production. This summer’s performance will be a junior version of the “Music Man” in which every camper will have a part.

The camp will run Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Huntington University Merillat Centre for the Arts, with performances on July 22. There will be no camp session on July 3 or 4.

Cost is $175 per camper with a late registration fee of $25. Space is limited to 50 campers. Brochures and registration forms will be given to area elementary and middle schools and will be available at the Merillat Centre for the Arts Box Office after May 1.

For youth ages 16-18, an apprentice program also will be offered at the same time. Apprentices are students with theatre interests that assist with facilitating the camp. They will work more closely with the camp directors and serve as assistant directors, assistant choreographers, stage mangers, and assistant designers. The cost, dates, and times are the same for the apprentices as they are for the younger campers.

This year’s Summer Theatre Youth Camp will receive funding from the local Huntington community with a $2,500 grant from Ecolab and a $3,000 grant from Cinergy Corp.

Ecolab in Huntington offers non-profit organizations the opportunity to apply for competitive grants once a year, awarding $25,000 per year in grants. The Cinergy grant comes as part of the corporation’s community development program. A group of area citizens along with representatives from Cinergy review areas of the community that could use grants to provide momentum for further development and community enhancement.

“The arts camp appealed to the organizations because of the potential impact on both youth of the community, and the greater Huntington community as well,” said Troy Irick, Huntington University vice president for advancement.

In addition to receiving funding from the local community, the theatre arts camp also is building strong relationships with the Huntington County Community School Corporation and the LaFontaine Arts Council (LAC).

“These groups see the need for a strong arts oriented summer program in Huntington County,” said Mike Burnett, assistant professor of theatre. “They have offered valuable advice to us as we have proceeded on this first camp. Future plans hopefully involve opening up the camp to the visual arts as well as other performing arts. Both LAC and the school corporation are excited about that possibility and how it can strengthen the youth of the Huntington area.”

David and Kristi Shamburger, Huntington University theatre faculty, will serve as co-camp directors. The Shamburgers created and directed summer youth musical theatre camps in Georgia and have experience with the Nevada School of the Arts youth theatre programming. Mike Burnett, assistant professor of theatre at Huntington, has worked in youth programming throughout the United States and will serve as camp technical director. In addition, four Huntington theatre students will serve as mentors.

After six years of running a theatre arts camp while teaching at Middle Georgia College in Georgia, the Shamburgers came to Huntington and were surprised to find that the University did not have a similar program.

“We have the facility, the means, the personnel to do a top-notch arts camp,” said David Shamburger, assistant professor of theatre. “It’s a necessity to offer the arts to the community, sort of an outreach program. We want to build a bridge with the community, and the best way to do that is to connect with children.”

In addition, Shamburger hopes the camp will help promote the University’s Department of Theatre Arts, assist Huntington theatre students by providing camp positions, and most importantly, impact the local community for Christ. “We are a Christ-centered university, and everything we do is through Him,” he said.

While in Georgia, Shamburger and his wife Kristi, a member of the University’s adjunct faculty, led campers in full-fledged productions of musicals such as “Music Man,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Wizard of Oz,” and “Lil’ Abner.” Intensive rehearsals taught children to sing, dance, and act.

Shamburger says the Huntington University camp will be a great opportunity for youth to work with real theatre professionals. “Both my wife and I are actor union members and professionals, and Mike and Ella Burnett are also professionals in the field. It’s great for kids to not only do theatre, but to do theatre with professionals.”

In addition to helping run Huntington’s first Summer Theatre Youth Camp, the Shamburgers also plan to travel to Tennessee this summer to help with another camp. “It’s sort of become our way of reaching out to children and the community,” Shamburger said.

Shamburger most enjoys the enthusiasm and passion of the young actors. “To them it is magic,” he said. “I always try to get my actors to return to a sense of play. The children still have that and it’s nice to work with.”

For more information, call Mike Burnett at (260) 359-4279. To obtain a registration form, call the Merillat Centre for the Arts Box Office at (260) 359-4261 or log on to

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Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).  


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