At Eckerd Connects E-Nini-Hassee there is a time honored tradition before every home stay visit. Home stay visits are when the girls return home to visit their families (about every 8 weeks) from a Thursday to a Monday. The night before the girls will dress up and celebrate with a camp wide dinner party. After the dinner, each group will perform a short skit that they have created, planned, and practiced. It is a special time where the groups can demonstrate team work, creativity, and theatrical drama.
I have been lucky enough to have seen several party day skits over the years and the therapeutic benefits are clear. The North American Drama Therapy Association defines drama therapy as “the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals.” At E-Nini-Hassee these skits allow the girls to work together as a team, enhance the positive peer culture, and practice their individual goals.
The creative exercise of the skit also allows girls to work together and practice their communication, leadership and listening skills. The whole group must work together to come up with the theme of their skit and then create it from start to finish. They practice their lines and create costumes to bring the characters of each skit to life. This activity also helps each new camper feel like she is part of her group as each role is important to development of the story. The group must use the strengths of each girl during the performance. I have seen seemingly timid girls get up and perform a solo rap in front of everyone and those that are the usual leaders step back and share the limelight with her peers.
Theatre and drama are very therapeutic for individuals of any age. Recent studies show the benefits of drama therapy in helping adolescents build confidence and work through anxiety and depression. At E-Nini-Hassee it is a tradition that brings everyone closer, helps many girls find their voice, and sparks the love of the dramatic arts in each and every camper.