Our Lady of Peace School Running BackYard Players Drama Camp

How friends and family helped organize one of Lynbrook's hottest summer activities.

Since the summer is the perfect time for children to spend their care-free days in a fun way, kids and parents should look no further than the BackYard Players Drama Camp at in Lynbrook.

The camp runs in two sessions: July 11-15 and July 18-22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The camp aims to give children, ages 8-13, the forum to express themselves in a fun-filled and creative atmosphere. The program is created for children to be a part of a performing arts environment with skilled instructors.

Ellen White, director of the Backyard Players Drama Camp, said the program encompasses everything you might expect, from choreography, music, costume, set design, and skits.

"Last year, we had three Shakespearean actors from Brown University and this year, we may have a guest appearance from the Harvard Sailing Team again. They are a sketch comedy team [of] graduates from New York University," White said. "We work as an ensemble and we write the shows so that kids learn what it is like to work as a group. They also learn the creative process of the theater. This drama camp is kid-driven. It's a loving and safe environment.”

Billy Scafuri, 29, of Rockville Centre, once volunteered at the camp and said he was thrilled with the experience. “The drama camp is a fun way to spend a day with young kids interested in stuff I'm interested in," he said. "It's a great place to be comfortable and feel supported just being yourself. Ellen White is a champion leader."

As camp counselor, Jessica Kraus, 19, of Lynbrook, said she found the environment rewarding for the children. “I have been with the camp since the first summer they started," she said. "Being a part of the BackYard Players has given me the opportunity to belong to an ever-growing community filled with people who are doing what they love, whether it be the campers who get to shine on stage, the counselors who get to watch the campers grow from the quiet kids on day one to the stars they are, or the directors who get to see their visions come to life — the camp is just an overall great experience for all those who are involved."

Established three years ago, the camp is run by four siblings: directors Ellen White, of Rockville Centre; Cristine Daly, of Lynbrook; Frances Carver, of Ridgewood, N.J.; and Beth Dennett, of Saratoga, N.Y.

Recalling their childhood, the sisters instantly came up with the most fitting name for the drama camp. "We decided the name 'BackYard Players' was perfect because, as kids, we used to perform in our backyards," White said.

The sisters were motivated to start the camp from their love of performing and the desire to have a place for children to convey themselves in a fun way.

The drama camp is welcome to all. It doesn’t matter if your child wants to be on stage or behind the scenes.

“While there are those campers who are outgoing from the minute they step out of their cars and others who are a bit more shy, it is incredible to see them all become fast friends and watch their talents shine through," Kraus said. "No matter what activity they are participating in, they are always enjoying themselves.”

The camp is a true family affair. Aside from the four sisters, two more sisters and one brother participate in the camp: Joan Kelly, of Rockville Centre; Jennifer Kempton, of Valley Stream; and Jim Hyland, of New Paltz, N.Y.;

“Our parents, Joan and Jim Hyland, do costume design and help with skits," White said. "We have brothers- and sisters-in-law and about 28 nieces and nephews that help out with the camp."

Conor Tansey, 27, of Rockville Centre, teaches the master acting class and knows firsthand how tremendous the drama camp really is. “It’s an incredible experience for kids," he said. "There is a lot of great energy at the camp.”

The price per camper is $275. For more information, call (516) 208-5319 or visit www.backyardplayers.net.

Julie O'Connell July 07, 2011 at 12:22 AM
These ladies are all fabulous and talented! I cannot wait until next year when my daughter is old enough to attend!!
RVCLongIslander July 07, 2011 at 09:01 PM
My daughter can't wait to come back again this year; Backyard Players is a fabulous camp and she had such a fantastic time last summer. The directors are all fantastic and treat the children with such respect.
the big kahuna July 08, 2011 at 03:40 PM
great job!!!
cd July 08, 2011 at 05:15 PM
There are still openings at the Backyard Players for Week 2 July 18-22. A wonderful local summer camp!
Fran Carver July 08, 2011 at 11:57 PM
I went to this camp and had such a great time! My favorite is reading the skits because they're so funny. They're also original! It's also fun meeting all the people that come in to talk to us like the harvard sailing team. From Tommy Carver


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