A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Sophie Utpadel interned as a counselor at
Phoenix Theatre's Summer Camp Program. She led the teaching artists and campers (ages 4-18) through warm-ups and activities, showcase performances, theatre games, and training.
Describe your day-to-day experiences.
No two days at a Phoenix Theatre Camp are the same. Each week, there are camps offered for every age group. The content ranges from creative drama play to fully-staged numbers from Broadway musicals. Each group has a theme or a show for the camp. The musical staff picks three to five songs from the show or that go with the theme. The campers then learn the songs and the choreography, so a big part of each day is teaching and drilling the kids in their performance. We want to foster a love for theatre and the arts, and we want the kids to have as much fun as we do, so we make sure to end the day with theatre games. These are a chance to have fun, but they also teach important skills like improvisational thinking, collaboration, and confidence that they can use even if they never perform after this camp. I guess the best way to describe my day-to-day experience is that I sing, dance, and play games while inspiring a lifelong love of theatre. Did I mention I love this job???
Can you cite an example of how your experiences at Knox have benefited you in the internship?
During winter term, I volunteered to tutor third graders at Nielson Elementary, which was an amazing experience. As a tutor, I got to sit down with kids and see what did, and did not, help them learn. I learned that the most important thing is to have a smile on your face as you teach -- as simple as it sounds, it really is key. A smile shows students that you are engaged in what you are doing, and that encourages them to be engaged as well. This was a crucial skill that I took with me as I worked at Phoenix Theatre. Every time I sang a song, I smiled. Every time I danced, a smile was plastered to my face -- my cheeks hurt so much but I really saw the results, and that made it worth it. One thing Knox has really taught me is how to ask questions and keep asking them until I have a better understanding of what I'm doing and what I still need to do.
What did you learn from your internship?
Working at Phoenix Theatre affirmed two central things for me: the first is that I definitely want to be a theatre educator, and the second is a firm belief in the importance and power of the arts and the need to ensure that arts education is available to all. More practically, I learned so many skills that will aid me in the future. The best thing I learned was to reach out and listen to these kids and really spend time with them. I sat with the kids during lunch and breaks to talk to them. I learned so much more than I would have in just a class setting. I was able to use what I learned to help them during class, improving their experience and making my job easier. This is a skill I will carry with me as I work toward my goal to become a theatre educator.