On the surface, spending a summer at camp and performing a play are very different activities. For example, at camp we try to unplug from gadgets and get outside, while plays are (usually) indoors and often require quite a bit of technology to pull off. But as a professional actor in Chicago for the past six years, I’ve found many lessons I learned at camp to be helpful for my career
Cast members are like cabin-mates.
Rehearsing and performing a show can be a whirlwind process. You get thrown together with a small group of people and in a short amount of time, you need to come together to produce the show. In many ways, this reminds me of spending a summer at camp. Cast members, like cabin mates, usually don’t know each other before the first day. Almost before you realize it, bonds are formed, goals are accomplished, and by the end of the process you wonder how you ever lived without all your newest, closest friends!
One of the goals we strive toward each day at camp is stepping outside our comfort zone. Venturing outside of the everyday areas and activities we are comfortable doing, and accomplishing something we find scary gives us a sense of accomplishment and teaches us not to accept false limitations on our abilities. Each time I step into a new audition or rehearsal room, it’s an experience of stepping outside my comfort zone. It can be tempting to feel like the people inside won’t think I am good enough or that I shouldn’t bother because I won’t succeed anyway.
Taking initiative and time management are important.
Every activity at camp encouraged me to take initiative and satisfaction in the work to be done. From cleaning the cabin, cooking dinner on overnights, earning my crimson arrow, to bringing down the house at the talent show (#pancakeskit4eva), success depended on me and my cabin mates getting the work done. As an actor, I have to be constantly looking for work and forming new relationships, and I learned how to always be looking toward the next task at camp.
Celebrate every performance.
Acting, like all art, is constantly being judged: which performance was better, what show in town can’t be missed right
now, etc. It can be easy to get caught up in these cycles of judgment and evaluation. Camp taught me that every
performance and every step along the path of growth is to be celebrated, and that Love is reflected in love. I think about this all the time as I go about my job, and I’m always uplifted by the reminder to celebrate everyone’s achievements rather than constantly judging what is “best.”
This blog was written by Ian McLeland; Ian is working part-time as CLC’s Development Director in addition to acting!