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Camp Creamery prepares for 'showdown' in Wellman

GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske

Nikkari Poll, 8, was all smiles on Wednesday, June 19, at Camp Creamery Theatre Camp held at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman.
GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske Nikkari Poll, 8, was all smiles on Wednesday, June 19, at Camp Creamery Theatre Camp held at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman.
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WELLMAN — The Mid-Prairie High School auditorium stage was packed with 29 happy campers on Wednesday for the third of five days at Camp Creamery.

Camp Creamery is a weeklong theater camp for kids ages 6-13 and allows them an opportunity to explore how theater works. Three employees of the Old Creamery Theatre, in Amana, drive down daily to teach the camp and new skills to the students.

The employees audition for a variety of theater companies across the U.S. in Memphis, Tenn. From there, companies conduct call-backs and choose whom to hire based on their performances. The Old Creamery Theatre in Amana hires employees for three theater camps that travel the state.

At the end of the five-day camp, the students will change into costume and perform the original show “Calamity Jane and the Showdown at Dry Gulch” from start to finish. Maddie Ripperger, of Dubuque, and an actor with Camp Creamery, said putting on a show in just five days is a feat not many professional actors can pull off, but the fact that the students are able to shows their dedication, hard work and determination to learn new skills.

Kara Ryan, of Chicago, has been involved in theater since she was 6 years old and is now an actor with the Old Creamery Theatre. She said getting involved young helped her with many aspects of her life such as discipline and learning to speak in public because of the confidence she built being on stage.

“I think it inspires a lot of teamwork and friendships, similar to what you would find while doing sports, because they really have to work together and listen to each other to put on this performance,” she said.

Angie Boyse, Branch Director of the Wellman YMCA, said the camp has been held in Wellman for the past five years and is one the students look forward to. She said a large majority of campers are either returners or younger siblings of campers who finally get the chance to be on stage.

Shelby Barrows, of Raleigh, N.C, is also an actor with Camp Creamery and said teamwork is an essential part of the camp because it helps the students learn to trust themselves and their abilities and also the abilities of others.

“It’s definitely a lot of self-confidence and then confidence in each other that they learn,” she said. “We’re very adamant about making sure everything everybody says about each other is kind and nice.”