Kids Do It All summer camp allows kids to create their own plays

By Chapman Croskell, Rocky Mountain Collegian (reprinted with permission)

A child triple-threat performer insisted on adding ballet moves to his performance as a thief for a play he helped to create, which was one of the best parts of the summer, said Kyle Phibbs, junior theater major.

Kids Do It All allows children to learn the ins and outs of producing a play. The camp has been running since early June and offers a chance for children ages 8 to 13 to create their own plays and perform them. The event is hosted at the University Center for the Arts and works extensively with Colorado State University staff and students.

Maile Speetjens is the current manager of CSU’s costume shop, and this is her second year involved with the program.

“All of the content comes from the ideas that the kids have,” said Speetjens, creative director for the program. “From the plays to the scenic elements to the lyrics in the songs, it really is student- and kid-oriented.”

Participants spend the first few days of the program playing improv games and coming up with ideas for their plays. They work with CSU theatre upperclassmen, who act as playwrights and directors for the kids, to create ideas for the productions they want to create.

“They just have a really great time working backstage,” said Heather Salyer, sophomore theater major. “(Working with the kids) is always really high-energy.”

Salyer works as a director for the middle of the three age groups the kids are split into, and she said working with the kids, especially the very theatrical ones, is a lot of fun.

Once the play is created, the students work with composer David Hörger and choreographer Lauren Scott to create the music and dances for the play. Scott said this is a time when the kids really come out of their shells during the camp.

“Usually by the end of the week, everyone is really into it,” said Scott, a senior theater and business major. “It’s just cool to see.”

Once the play is complete, the staff members work with the participants to block out their movements on stage, and the children bring in costumes from home to use in the productions. Speetjens said that one participant even went so far as to use old bike parts to create a robot costume for a performance.

The kids put on their plays Saturday mornings, and the final play is Saturday. The show is free to the public, and will be in the University Theatre at the UCA. Speetjens recommends that anyone planning on attending the performance should arrive early, as the theater can fill up quickly.

Speetjens said it is a wonderful opportunity for the participants, and that it is awesome to see kids creating and performing shows.

“It’s really cool to see all of it come together,” said Speetjens. “One of the cool things about doing improv and working with kids in particular is that once you hit a certain age, you would never think of some of the things the kids come up with.”

Collegian Reporter Chapman Croskell can be reached at and on Twitter @Nescwick.

Kids Do It All Group Photo

Video and photo by Chapman Croskell, Rocky Mountain Collegian.