The Viola Project Part 1: Queen Camp

    In this three-part feature, we take a look at an Oak Park summer camp focused on empowering our youth through the works of Shakespeare

    Campers who attend The Viola Project take valuable lessons from the iconic works of Shakespeare and apply them to the modern world.

    Summer camps have taken on themes in very creative ways, but nothing quite compares to the mission of The Viola Project.

    The camp organizers, in partnerships with The Oak Park Festival Theatre Company and Nineteenth Century Club, have created three weeklong summer camps that aim to empower kids age 10-14 (will accept applicants up to 16) who culturally identify as girls and young women through the works of William Shakespeare.

    A common misconception amongst families who first hear about the camp is that it is catered to literature and theater enthusiasts. In reality, it’s usually the campers who don’t have a fundamental love of drama that end up having the most fun.

    Safe spaces. Brave faces.

    Motto of The Viola Project

    “The Viola Project is open to anyone who is interested in a weeklong camp that focuses on empowering girls and young women in a really fun way,” said Program Director Rebecca Dumain. “Our motto is Safe spaces. Brave faces.”

    Dumain goes onto explain that there have been instances in the program’s five-year history in Oak Park where families didn’t understand that they were signing up for a camp with a Shakespearean theme. However, by the end of the week, they ended up having the time of their lives.

    Viola Project campers grace the stage for a curtain call

    Taking place from July 8-12, The Viola Project’s Queen Camp is the first summer camp taking place this year. The day camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at Austin Gardens with drop-offs beginning as early as 8:30 a.m.

    Families can expect Queen Camp to have a focus on the costumes and character motivations of the women in Shakespeare’s work, and how they can apply lessons from these iconic literary figures to their own lives.

    For example, Queen Elizabeth came into power when her country was facing bloodshed and significant debt. Instead of dwelling on the severity of the situation, the protagonist uses her strengths to turn the fate of her country to a more favorable position.

    “We dive into characters, costumes, the history, and storylines,” said Dumain. “We take lessons from each of them and find a way to apply it to ourselves in the modern world.”

    Viola Project campers enjoying outdoor fun & games

    A typical week at The Viola Project is filled with getting to know one another, theater games, activities to break up the day, and even a few surprises here and there. Dumain hinted that on Wednesdays the camp has been known to celebrate the midpoint of the week with some ice cream.

    The Viola Project employs two to three counselors to look over the campers and attendance is capped at 18. Dumain said the reason for this is to ensure that all of the kids get individual attention for an enriching experience.

    Pricing for the camp is $375 per child/young teen. Scholarships and financial assistance are available on a case-by-case basis. For more information on the camp or how to apply, visit


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