All year round Wharton Music Center (WMC) is dedicated to advancing excellence and education in the performing arts. When the school year ends and summer kicks in, WMC sets the perfect stage to explore the visual and performing arts with its popular Who’s Got Talent? Camp. Who’s Got Talent? exposes students to the talents, traditions, and disciplines of the performing, visual, and creative arts and allows them to develop their skills as young artists and performers.
Who’s Got Talent? Camp is foundational at WMC. These week-long camps run all summer long and are designed to acquaint campers ages 5 to 13 to a wide array of arts experiences. “The philosophy of the Who’s Got Talent? is exposure, experience, and expression,” explains Derek Mithaug, Executive Director at WMC. “Students learn and experience specific techniques related to a discipline and hear and see accomplished performers share their craft.” An addition to camp this summer will be a daily Fundamentals of Music elective class where students will learn basic principles of music through games.
Camp days are structured with activities ranging anywhere from theater Improvisation to comic book art. Each week is individually themed and campers engage in art, drama, music, and dance tied together with the weekly theme. This summer’s themes include favorites such as Harry Potter World, The Muppet Show, and Dinosaur World. At the end of the week, all of the work and play culminates in an informal showcase featuring songs and dances performed by the campers.
Who’s Got Talent? Camp runs from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day and accommodates an early drop-off option. In addition, camps are highly flexible with half-day and single-day options. Campers are grouped by age: 5 to 8 years and 9 to 13 years. WMC aims for a 1 to 4 ratio of camp counselors to campers to ensure that the children are appropriately supervised. After an action-packed day of activities from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., students have the option to swim at the Berkeley Heights Community Pool across the street or stay and relax with a movie or games. By the time the day ends, the biggest complaint is that camp’s over. Parent Maria Hart shares, “My daughter attended the Disney camp last summer and loved it. The teachers were inspiring and caring and the production was delightful!''
WMC’s Musical Theater Administrative Coordinator Christopher Wright is the brains and heart behind the Who’s Got Talent? camp. Mr. Wright develops the daily activities and weekly themes to create a nurturing and safe environment where children can meet new friends, explore new artistic endeavors, and, as always, have fun! Along with teaching theater classes throughout the rest of the year, Mr. Wright designs and constructs the elaborate sets and costumes for WMC’s musical theater productions. A creative genius in the arts and crafts, Mr. Wright is able to transform ordinary materials such as cardboard boxes, fabric, and paint into whimsical set pieces such as the New York Skyline, an enchanted castle, and a pirate ship.
As someone with extensive experience working with children and multi-media arts, Mr. Wright is a phenomenal camp director. He believes that campers are happiest when they are given a structured environment full of innovative and varied activities that result in a group-inspired accomplishment. The low-key, fun-filled showcase at the end of the week becomes the main focus for campers. “Working towards something together breeds camaraderie and self-confidence,” Mr. Wright comments. “We want the campers to walk away with an introductory understanding of what it means to put on a show. A basic tenet of musical theater is that there is something for everyone.” Campers sing, act, dance, paint, and learn how to tell a story verbally and with movement. The campers are kept busy and engaged throughout the day with multiple hands-on activities. Be it arts and crafts or practicing a song or dance, the campers are continuously stimulated and challenged. All in all, Who’s Got Talent? Camp is an experience that kids love.
Registration is now open for Who’s Got Talent? Camp. A complete description of all WMC camps including Who’s Got Talent? and FOCUS camps is included on the WMC website www.whartonmusiccenter.org . For more information, call 908 790-0700. Registration is available online for all camps.
Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights, provides music, theater, and dance instruction, educational programs, and performances for children, teens, and adults. In addition to instruction in all instruments and voice, WMC offers classes in musical theater, dance, drama, choral music, vocal music, music theory, audio recording, early childhood music, and music for children with special needs. Offering a range of musical genres including classical, rock, jazz, and blues, WMC is one of New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community music centers serving students in Berkeley Heights, Summit, Chatham, New Providence, Long Hill, Warren, Basking Ridge, Short Hills, Millburn, Livingston, Westfield, Scotch Plains, and other surrounding communities.
WMC offers orchestral and ensemble music education for grades 3 through 12 through New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has ten orchestras and ensembles for which auditions are held annually. NJYS’s premiere orchestra, Youth Symphony, has performed in internationally-renowned concert halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Musikverein in Vienna.