Kevin Ray Johnson
What if I told you that there is a performing arts camp that was established in 1955 that is celebrating 65 seasons this summer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And what if I told you that the same camp has an alumni list featuring the likes of Emmy Award Winner Jeremy Piven, Billy Zane, Andy Davis, and Academy Award Nominated Actress Virginia Madsen just to name a few. I want to introduce you to The Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts.
"Through the years, along with Music Theatre, we have tried to teach about caring for, and living with, and accepting others, for who they are, no matter what. It's truly about sharing the love in our hearts, as we try to teach "No Man/Woman is an Island" , says Co-Director Janice Gaffin.
Founded in 1955 by Sulie and Pearl Harand, Byron Friendman and Sam Gaffin, Harand Camp is one of the first camps in this country to combine singing, acting, dancing with what you would get at a traditional camp. Now the legacy lives on with Judy Mooney, Janice Gaffin, and Nora Gaffin (all daughters of the founders) serving as the Co-Directors.
The Harand Camp alumni pool is a huge one. People have from all over the world to attend the camp. “Having grown up at Harand where we have been and as a family member, it has shaped my life. It is wonderful to be in touch with Haranders all over the world” says Co-Director Nora Gaffin with Judy Mooney adding “My favorite thing is watching the children and even some counselors transform from shy and withdrawn to outgoing and laughing.”
Along with third-generation Harand family member Samara Harand (daughter of Judy Mooney) serving in the Theatre, Dance and Communications department you have Gordy Malis (A lifelong Harander) serving as the Program Director. But so many wonderful people contribute to keeping the heartbeat of this camp going which includes – Jeff Pepowski, William Haralson, Bridget Dominiak, Mark Bracken, Angela Lovell, Rob Denien and Kay Satoh, to name a few!
This summer I have had the chance to work at The Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts at The Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. While it is my first year, there are many counselors who have been coming back for many years to be a part of the festivities. “I came back to Harand as a Counselor because I wanted to give back to these wonderful kids the amazing experience that I was given,” says Sam Prange who is a first-year counselor but before that attended Harand as a camper for three years.
The one thing that the camp preaches and DEFINITELY practices in such a wonderful and positive way is that “No man is an Island.” At Camp Harand every child is given their special moment and opportunity to shine, while at the same time giving them the tools they need and should know when it comes to the theatre! “The 65-year culture of giving children the confidence when the spotlight is on them is something that I’ve never seen before in the theatre world!” says 5th-year counselor Kyle Robinson.
I remember reading a wonderful article for OnStage Blog titled “Why Theatre Camp is Perfect for Kids Who Don’t Know What to Do this Summer” and I honestly couldn’t agree more with everything in the article. Harand is the perfect place that enriches a kid while at the same time keeping them busy with so many different outlets (other than theatre). “So much happens in a day that by the end of 6 weeks, you feel like you’ve known everyone for years. You easily build relationships that will last a lifetime.” says technical director William Haralson.
The second session at the camp is just underway, but sign-ups have begun for Harand 2020, and I will strongly emphasize that if you have a child who has been bitten by the theatre bug, they should definitely consider attending Harand Camp next summer in Wisconsin. They will truly have the time of their life!
“I love Harand because it taught me the skills I needed to be the person I am today. This is not my second home; this is my home,” says Bridget Dominiak who serves as the camps costume director. Mark Bracken has returned for twelve years to work at Harand, and his reasoning is something that I feel everyone (in the theatre business or not) in life wants and needs. “I have gotten to experience the love acceptance and empowerment that is Harand. Why do I keep coming back? It’s pretty simple. Love!” says Mark Bracken.
For more information, please visit their website at - http://www.harandcamp.com