Dancing, snapping and singing with bright colored shirts and crazy hair, the children of My Father's House family homeless shelter performed 'Seussical,' a musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss, at 7 p.m. Friday, June 24, at the Family Worship Center.
The performance was the culmination of a week-long drama camp for 18 of the 70 children at the shelter. Students from High School Youth Pursuing Excellence (HYPE) led the week of drama lessons and performance preparation. The HYPE is run through Christian Youth Theater, an after-school theater arts education program.
'The HYPE kids are great. They are so good with the kids,' said Cathe Wiese, director of My Father's House, founded in 2000. 'I hope they come back every year because it has been a positive, good experience for the kids.'
The drama camp was a chance for the HYPE teens to exercise their leadership and planning skills as well as contribute to the community.
'This is the first time we've done something like this for an outside group,' said Jeremy Richardson, director of the camp and adult supervisor. 'It was a chance to expand into the community.'
The HYPE group that staffed the My Father's House drama camp is part of the Vancouver chapter of Christian Youth Theater. The group included several Vancouver HYPE members along with volunteers from the Gresham, Portland and Beaverton chapters and some youth theater alumni.
HYPE member Lauren Lamb initiated contact within My Father's House and said she suggested the drama camp as something the group members could be passionate about.
'We are trying to see how we can use our skills and passion to do some good,' said Lamb, a junior at Union High School in Camas, Wash.
Both Lamb and Richardson noted that the drama camp went well and they hope to make it an annual program with My Father's House.
'Seussical' was only the beginning of a summer full of fun activities for the shelter's kids. The shelter offers themed weekly programs with field trips in its 'Kids Summer Fun' program until just before school starts.
In addition to the activities at the shelter, the majority of the camp-age kids also will attend a week on scholarship at one of three sleep-away summer camps.
Camp Collins and Gresham Rotary Club gave 18 scholarships to attend Camp Collins. Eagle Fern Camp provided 20 scholarships and Christian Soccer Academy donated 42.
Gresham Rotary Club has also donated money to the shelter for new summer camp supplies, such as swimsuits, sleeping bags and flip-flops, 'so that they feel like every other kid,' Wiese said.
All of the summer programs are geared not only to provide childcare for the shelter's job-searching parents, but also to allow the kids in the shelter the chance to 'be a kid,' Wiese said.
'Mostly, homeless kids don't have a chance to be involved in extracurricular activities at school,' she said. 'For them to have something like this, that is geared just for them, is a very encouraging experience.'