Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Get active this summer with camps for kids

Plenty of opportunities have opened up this year


Steve Penhollow

Whatzup Features Writer

Published April 28, 2021

One of the benefits of being a kid growing up in Fort Wayne these days is proximity to Sweetwater’s Rock Camp.

Rock Camp isn’t for kids who want to take music lessons. It’s for kids who have been taking music lessons and want to level up.

At Rock Camp, groups of kids are turned into rock bands. Amazingly, it takes only a week.

“Throughout the week, they are learning cover songs, writing an original, coming up with a band name and a brand or look for their band,” said Camille Hunter, director of Sweetwater’s Academy of Music and Technology. “They come up with an idea for an album cover and our marketing department brings that vision to life.”

The summer camp offerings at Purdue Fort Wayne aren’t quite as flashy as that, but they’re substantive and popular.

Purdue Fort Wayne offers camps for clarinetists, pianists, vocalists, string players, singers, visual artists, poets, fiction writers, and virtual reality aficionados, said Emily Grillo, director of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Community Arts Academy.

Some of the camps cater to grammar school kids and some to middle school and high school kids, she said. Some are residential and some are commuter.

Well-known area actor and director Gloria Minnich also teaches drama classes at Purdue Fort Wayne in the summer.

“Historically, she has run it like a drama camp,” Grillo said. “You go to classes all week.”

Grillo said they are adding some new offerings this summer, including Bunraku puppetry, taiko drumming and ceramics.

Bunraku is a traditional form of Japanese puppet theater and Taiko refers to Japanese percussion instruments.

“We’re just trying to find new programming and see if that grabs the attention of some new people,” Grillo said.

Ceramics has been hugely popular in the past, she said.

“We’re really excited,” Grillo said. “We have a good amount of studio time.”

At Sweetwater’s Rock Camp, studio time yields an original song from each band.

“So by the end of the week,” Hunter said, “they have this really cool professionally designed album cover with their name and a photo that they get to do a photo shoot for. On Friday, they record their original song in the studio, and they perform all three of the songs they’ve been working on on stage.”

Each band gets a coach to guide them through the week’s activities, she said.

There are six one-week Rock Camp sessions throughout the summer, Hunter said.

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