The Camp Experience – By Lauren Morris (Florida)
Camp! A magical place where anything happens. The mere mention of Improv Utopia and I get excited. My journey in improv has been a winding and long road and landed me at the inaugural year of Improv Utopia’s East camp.
Off to camp I went. Excited, scared, and in shock that I agreed to “camp”. I spent many years avoiding summer camp and camps in general! However, my love of improv trumped my fear of using any bathroom outside my home!
Upon arrival, I instantly made friends! I love t-shirts and happened to be wearing my favorite He-Man t-shirt. The first time meeting Nick Armstrong led to a conversation that I MUST go and meet Bill Binder as he will absolutely love and appreciate my t-shirt. Off I went to meet this person and on the front porch was also an improviser from Ireland! Spoiler alert, the following November, I spent time in Ireland at the Ireland Improv Festival with Nick Armstrong, Bill Binder, and the “improviser from Ireland”, Neil Curran. People who have become a source of inspiration, mentors, and friends. It happened that fast! In fact, I had 100 new friends!
It wasn’t just friendships that forged! The teachers at camp are there because they too love improv and are willing to share, discuss, talk 24/7 about improv! One of those teachers is Paul Vaillancourt, someone I admired for a long time, but up until camp had not been able to meet and study alongside. Having access to amazing teachers in one place makes camp even that more amazing.
Camp encouraged me to dream big and gave me a community to lean on. Shortly after arriving home, I founded AdLib Theatre, a theater dedicated solely to long form improv. In a course of one year, AdLib went from one team and bi-monthly performances, to multiple classes, multiple teams, and a dedicated space. Paul joined us for the launch of AdLib and our one year anniversary celebration. AdLib has also welcomed Nick and Bill and their wonderful workshops to the theater and Neil even performed his amazing Neil +1 show. Friends from camp stop by as they visit the Sunshine State and play with us as well. All of this because Improv Utopia came to the East coast and I decided to say “yes”!
I returned the following year to East, made even more memories, strengthened and built even more friendships. This year, I head to Improv Utopia Yosemite for a completely brand new adventure and look forward to this annual tradition of camp! Improv Utopia is transformational and indeed magical!