(Shenandoah) -- Some KMAland children have received a taste of theater production this week.

Shenandoah's Rose Garden was alive with activity, with the Southwest Iowa Theatre Group's Summer Kids Camp. Last year's camp was among the events wiped out by COVID-19. Camp Director Julie Murren tells KMA News reviving the camp this year is a sign of normalcy for children.

"Normal is getting out and having fun with your family and friends," said Murren, "and having some great entertainment, and also getting your kids to some awesome activities. So, we are really excited to be back in this theater after such a long, dark period."

Two groups of children have received a primer in performance arts from Murren and a strong group of volunteers. Murren says strong numbers in previous years prompted dividing the camp into two different groups. Students in grades K-through-2 make up one session.

"For our little ones this year," she said, "we are focusing on projecting your voice very loudly, and doing things very big, so that your audience can see what you're doing, and that if there are funny parts, make them really, really big so that everybody can see what you're trying to get across."

More advanced instruction on acting and other basics in theater production has been offered to 3rd through 6th grade students.

"They have been learning how to build a set, and use the power tools," said Murren. "They have been painting this week. So, they're learning not only what happens on stage as an actor, but they're learning about all of the aspects of theatre that people might not see when they come to see the show. They see what's on the stage--that finished product, but they don't see all the work that goes on behind the scenes before the show ever takes place."

Murren believes theatre instills not only confidence, but also a sense of work ethic in participants.

"Even though something is hard at first, you keep trying and you keep trying, and eventually, you're going to get better at it," she said. "You are going to notice that every aspect of theatre isn't for every person. So, you might really love working backstage. Maybe you don't like feeling like being onstage as a performer is your forte, really. So, theatre offers something for everyone."

This week's activities culminate in special presentations by campers this weekend. Kindergarten through 2nd grade performers present two shows: "Pete the Cat: Rockin' in My School Shoes," and "If You Take a Mouse to School." Performances are Friday at 6 and 7 p.m. Third through 6th graders perform "Sideways Stories from Wayside School" Saturday at 6 p.m. All performances take place at the Rose Garden. Admission is a free will donation. More information is available from the SWITG website.

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