The first annual Shining Stars Performing Arts Academy at the legendary Camp Swamp was a huge success! Last summer, almost 50 students from around the country gathered in the peaceful woods of Georgia to share and pursue their talents and fulfill Psalm 150 commands to “praise the LORD with dancing, cymbals, strings and pipes…” The experience not only sharpened their singing, dancing and acting skills, but it also uncovered some buried talents that just needed a little coaxing to “fan into flame.” A lot of the students had the desire to perform, but not the confidence. With the help of some amazing teachers, whose credits include Broadway, national commercials, and TV and film, those talents received some of the best training in the business – all with a focus on keeping your Christian convictions while succeeding in the crazy world of entertainment.
The most important product of the Shining Stars Performing Arts Academy was how the experience deepened the spirituality of each student. Some of the campers even made decisions during the week to ramp up their study of the Bible and become disciples! With daily devotionals, quiet times, Bible study and prayer, this was one of the foundations of the camp.
Created and directed by Sherwin Mackintosh and Carrie Kelsey, the Shining Stars Performing Arts Academy continues a tradition of excellence that began many years ago. Sherwin and Carrie were two of the producers of the recent revival of Upside Down. Sherwin is one of the co-writers (along with Steve Johnson) and Carrie was the Assistant Director and Choreographer. Shining Stars was held at Camp Swamp, which was transformed to include a performing arts venue and instructional studios. The week of camp also included many of the things that campers have come to love and expect at the Swamp, like starlight devotionals, swimming, and fishing.
Throughout the week students learned selections from some of the greatest plays and musicals, including excerpts from the recent revival of Upside Down. The week culminated in a 90-minute showcase for the parents featuring some of the pieces the campers learned throughout the week. Singing, dancing, instrumental music and acting were all represented as well as allowing campers who are interested in technical theatre the opportunity to learn more about lights, sound, costumes and producing a show.
Shining Stars is a great experience for anyone looking to build their confidence, leadership training and talent development. Studies show that students involved in the arts score higher on SATs and learn to be more comfortable in social situations. So whether you are just starting out or have been performing since you were born (we’ve heard the stories!), there is a place here for everyone to grow in a very safe, non-threatening environment. And if you are thinking about trying to make a career in entertainment, there will also be special classes on how to use your talents for God while thriving spiritually in the field of entertainment.