Camp Hoopla! Let’s put on a show!

By Wendy Bratt | Contributor

Two playful people in Charlotte share the belief that music is the universal language, while laughter is the shortest distance between two people. When they get together, there is always music and laughter and anything can (and will) happen. Andy Smith, long-time music teacher at CCS, and Woody Keppel, Charlotte resident of 25 years and internationally acclaimed physical comedian, teamed up for a week of inspired silliness at Camp Hoopla with kids age 8 to14, who wanted to charge up their creative batteries.

Andy, Woody and 14 Hoopla campers unleashed their creative clown and musical spirits for five days of Fun (with a capital F), while practicing the fun-damentals of music, clowning, storytelling, juggling and all around hoopla. Campers were immersed in opportunities to discover and build upon their tapped, and yet to be tapped, creative talents in music, play and performance. The week at Camp Hoopla culminated with a group performance featuring sketch comedy and individual pieces.

For Andy Smith, 8- to 14-year-olds are some of his favorite people because, with them, there is always adventure and HOopla - Wendy Bratt4entertainment. Andy is a “kid magnet.” The CCS music room overflows with students who want to hang out and jam with Mr. Smith, even during lunch and after school. When Mr. Smith is not making music at CCS, he performs with a variety of musical acts, including Prydein, Small Change, the Bessette Quartet and more. An acclaimed musician, Smith has appeared on stages throughout the world, has guest conducted several district music festivals for both concert and jazz bands and has co-coordinated the summer jazz camp for many years.

Woody is a long-time mentor through the Connecting Youth mentoring program at CCS and is known for his award-winning video, “Woodhead Saves the Farm.” He is also known locally as the co-founder and artistic director of The Festival of Fools, a performing arts festival produced by Burlington City Arts and comprised of comedians and vaudeville performers from around the world. Woody has performed his music/comedy/variety show in over 30 countries as the endearing eccentric “Woodhead” and acted in a dozen feature films. Woody teaches juggling and the art of character clowning to kids and adults across New England.

Both Mr. Smith and Woody marvel at how easily kids are able to access and explore their inherent playfulness.

Camp Hoopla! ran from June 29 to July 3 at the CCS for students age 8-14 and will be back next year.