Students in the Chateaugay Theater Camp pose for a picture. They have been working on their acting skills during summer vacation and will be performing a show this Friday and Saturday.

CHATEAUGAY -- For the second year in a row, summer means Theater Camp for one group of kids in this North Country community.

Megan Nemier-Green, who has taught theater at Chateaugay Central School for five years, said the culminating performance by her summer students this Friday and Saturday is not only important to the actors but to the community as a whole.

"I have a lot of people who travel quite a ways. It brings everybody together."

Nemier-Green pointed out that Chateaugay, like many small towns, simply does not have the artistic outlet that bigger communities do. While the camp allows kids on summer vacation to express their artistic side, it also provides the public with a form of entertainment they seldom get.

This year's production is "Northwoods Nonsense," a two-act play about searching for Bigfoot in the northern woods of Maine.

"It's a great play for a family," Nemier-Green said. "It's very fun and funny."

Last year, the camp was held at the Chateaugay Town Hall Theater. Due to construction this year, the camp is being held at the Chateaugay Central School.

About 25 students from fifth through 12th grade attend the camp from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for two weeks during summer vacation.

Morning sessions include workshops to help improve participants' acting skills through improvisational games, directing activities, stage combat, storybook theater and working on accents.

In the afternoon sessions, they rehearse for the play.

All students who take part in the camp are guaranteed a speaking part.

While many young people look forward to getting away from school over break, Nemier-Green said her students take time from their busy summer schedules to commit to these productions.

"They really like to be on stage, so they make time for it."

A lot of the kids who participate in the camp also take part in theater productions during the school year, Nemier-Green said, and many continue to pursue their artistic calling after they graduate. One former student even appeared on "Ameican Idol" recently.

Nemier-Green said it is necessary for kids with an artistic side to have the ability to express their passion.

"I think it's tremendously important for kids to have an outlet during the summertime. It's really one of the only artistic expressions our kids have."

Chateaugay Theater Camp receives grant money from the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts through the Chateaugay Revitilization Committee.

With a lack of big venues for professional actors in the North Country, Nemier-Green said it is students like hers who provide the area with art and culture.

"It's a great way for not only kids, but parents and the community to be involved."

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