Lessons from My Cast of Superheroes

By Tyler Crow

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 3.44.02 PMThe term “Tech Week” sends shivers down my spine for two reasons: I am in a dark theatre for hours dominated by the responsibility of making sure we have a path to get Rapunzel’s tower onstage or getting a stage from the orphanage to New york City in less than fifteen seconds. I am shielded from the light of day and stars of night. Secondly, these are shivers of excitement. Tech week means that the opening of the show is upon us. Peter Pan will fly just like my superheroes at camp.

“Superheroes: Assemble!”

Superman, Wonderwoman, Batman, and an assortment of others all line up. But instead of towering above me as you might expect, they are clustered below me. This is because these superhumans are 5 years old, and the line is for the swimming pool. In Superhero Camp at Marcos Jewish Community Center of Atlanta Day Camps, I don’t believe in staidly ordering kids into “single file!” We know the room full of 5-year-olds, brandishing shirts with their favorite cartoon heroes, some even wearing full costumes, are much more likely to be attentive to our directives when we engage their imaginations.

Stage management and working with children are my two passions. My ability to orchestrate the buzzing jumble of campers comes directly from my background in stage management. As a stage manager, I’m not visible. In fact, the more inconspicuous my presence, the better. However, I still have the privilege to show what I, along with many others have worked tirelessly to bring to life. Then at camp, I’m the actor and the campers are my scene partners. I have the privilege to play off of their wonderful imaginations, with limitless possibilities.

It started with Fame–I was 11 when I worked as a crew member in a middle school production and fell in love with working backstage. The opportunity to be a spoke on the wheel of an art form that encompases many other singular arts was one I truly valued. Gradually the significance of my spoke became more vital. Beginning my freshman year, I became one of the centermost on the wheel. Similarly, four years ago I began working as a counselor-in-training. Two years later, I became a Group Counselor and last year, I was promoted to Lead Counselor. There are times where I am their counselor, an authority figure in charge of their well-being. However, in my four years climbing the ladder, I realized there were situations in which I needed to be their valiant captain in superpowers training.

The job descriptions for stage manager and lead camp counselor may seem divergent, and once upon a time, they appeared that way to me too. However, in retrospect, the parallels between the roles are striking. First and foremost, there is the meticulous interpretation of the camp’s curriculum and activities, which isn’t so different from taking a script and manifesting its stage directions — as well as the attendant set, props, and lighting needs. Additionally, I often have to improvise when things do not go exactly as planned.

Receiving praise is not my principal motivation. With that said, there is nothing more gratifying than facilitating someone else’s growth or performance — whether it be a part-time actor or a child who’s a part-time superhero.

“Thank you so much for making sure she is included. She loves Superhero camp.” Melissa’s mom told me as she picked up the cheery 5 year old camper. On the first day, her mom worried because her daughter was the only girl in a hoard of 15 boys. Instead, through my tactful inclusion of her into “boys club”, she had a blast, and so did I!

The unquantifiable warmth of kids running up to hug you, with arms outstretched and gleaming smiles, is as invaluable as the applause a show receives at the end of a performance. The positive energy is palpable and helps propel me to accomplish even more.

Tyler Crow, a graduate of Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia, will be a freshman at Emerson College in the fall.

Comments are closed.