By the end of this summer’s week-long theater-themed Creative Camp, campers will stage, star in, and film a fully realized theater production for which they wrote the script, designed the costumes, built the set, and managed the special effects—all in Minecraft. Summer offers a special opportunity to expand on theatrical productions in Connected Camps’ year round Creative Labs. Having 5 days in a row and an all hands on deck approach makes for an especially rewarding experience.
The week begins with a lesson about storyboarding and how to identify different elements of a story, like the setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Campers also explore how to use Minecraft as their theater and brainstorm ideas for the production that will be their grand finale.
By midweek, campers are busy working in small groups (supported by campers’ ability to break off into smaller collaboration channels in TeamSpeak) to achieve their end goal; some are script writers, some are actors, while others are set builders, costume designers, and special effects engineers.
Cherry (aka vividfiasco), the lead counselor for our summer Creative Camps, (including a girls-only version), marveled at all the campers are able to accomplish in such a short time:
“Anything can happen and anything can be done with a little elbow grease and imagination. Kids continue to wow me with redstone contraptions that make my head spin, or they create sculptural masterpieces with such ease. What the avatars lack in movement and expression, the kids make up for in spades in other ways either through building or their own special effects.”
Building Collaboration and Community
Minecraft’s creative mode is known for providing an open-ended platform for building and experimentation, and the creations of the campers are impressive to be sure. In all our Creative Camps, no matter the focus, the results of the campers’ efforts are truly astounding. Together, campers build entire cities, replicas of everything from utilitarian objects to whole planets, and everything in between. But the collaboration and sociability that takes place in labs is just as important, with Connected Camps supporting kids in honing technical skills and life skills alike.
Cherry explained, “Without collaboration, we’d either have lots of separate, mini projects between campers or a lot of disarray and clash of ideas that can eventually lead to some sour feelings. I think when they find that balance within each other, that’s where the real magic and fun begins.”
Assembling 10+ kids with an average age of 11 in one space, be it virtual or in person, has the potential for chaos. But due to the leadership of the counselors, everything runs smoothly in Creative Camp. Kids quickly learn to adhere to the community norms around participation. These norms, like asking the counselor for help via text chat instead of shouting over the voice channel, help to establish a cohesive and productive community atmosphere.
Assuming the Role of Mentor
More experienced campers also get a chance to mentor newer campers throughout the week. “There’s a lot of roles the campers can take on depending on their comfort level and how long they’ve been with us. Our older lab kids have taken on that big brother/sister approach to help out newer kids,” Cherry said.
That practice of mentorship is just one of the many practical aspects of Connected Camps; kids learn to build things in Minecraft, but their continued teamwork and iteration have so many “real world” applications, too. Campers have learned about city planning, architecture, ocean conservancy—even community theater—on our servers. They are able to connect something they love (Minecraft) to lessons about science, nature, and technology, developing their skills in both virtual and real life spaces the entire way.
Ready for Their Closeup
5 days of building, script-writing, and dress rehearsals pass in a flash. By the week’s end, campers are ready to take the stage and perform their play in real time. It’s also recorded and livestreamed on Twitch, so campers’ friends and family members can enjoy the culmination of their hard work (what’s the theater without an audience!?)
But perhaps even better than the play itself is the sense of satisfaction campers feel after pulling everything off.
Cherry beams proudly, “The biggest accomplishment I feel they have is the general consensus of “I/we did it.” When the final product is due and everything is said and done, I can feel their collective sighs as they proudly showcase what they’ve worked on.”
Explore all our programs, which run throughout the summer and include other topics like architecture/world-building, film, game design, and science.