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A Year of Reflection

Hey campers! 2018 has been a supremely challenging year for camp and me personally. We opened our first international camp north of Dublin, Ireland in the beginning of May. Opening a new camp is always a very difficult and long process and takes a lot out of our staff, Ireland took more then two years to figure out. We have to make sure it has great arrangements for adults and a whole slew of other details I won’t bore you with. But it is always with your experience in mind. Every detail is carefully thought over and debated. It always comes back to you. We don’t make another camp unless we see it as a service to the greater community. As it turned out, Ireland was a huge success and we’ve decided to keep going forward with it. So Yay! Ireland registration will be opening soon so look out for that! It’s a truly great country and an amazing experience.

This is our 8th year as an organization. We started this by saying, “If you build it, they will come” I know cheesy. But true. At the time the improv world was still in its unconnected phase. A handful of theaters that didn’t know each other existed. Flash to today, and The Improv Network exists and camp has theaters from all over connecting and working together. It’s been a dream come true. None of this would be possible without the most amazing staff and board I could have ever ask for. If it weren’t for camp, I’d have never met or become close with some of these people I now call family. So thanks to, Brian O’Connell, Jessica Young, Johnny Abbott, Patricia Forman, Chris Moody, Neil Curran, Jacque Arend, Jaclynn Cherry, Josh Nicols, Tj and Wendy Penrod, Mark Stetson, Valerie Vasilas and Brandon Hensgen and all the Camp Counselors that have stepped up over the years. These are people who go above and beyond in their lives and their communities. It’s an all-star cast of people from all different communities that I’ve been so proud to call my friends and family. I mean look at that group!

2018 has had its personal challenges with me as an artist. I started an Artistic Director job 2 years ago at M.I.’s Westside Comedy Theater, which I love, but it has made me take a step back artistically. Teaching more, administration…you know head stuff make Nick go CWWWAZY. HAHA! With the closing of my home theater, iO West in February of 2018, it really took a hit on me emotionally and artistically. I don’t see my friends, perform as much, and there is still a tiny hole in our improv world. So, in 2019, I’m going to get myself back to my artistic roots, so to speak. As of December 1st, I will be stepping down from The Improv Network and handing it over to Bill Binder and an amazing group of people and in our 9th and upcoming year at camp, I plan to take a small step back. In May, Wendy Penrod will be running our West Camp, Chris Moody will have a more active role heading up our East Camp, Neil Curran our Ireland Camp and Yosemite, Valerie Vasilas has come on to be our Operations Manager. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to be there! I love camp, I’ve been to all 17! But I want to experience camp the way you all do as much as I possibly can. I believe the longevity of a company and community is to be honest with yourself and remember why you got into it in the first place. Never lose sight of that.

Having said all that, I have to say that each year gets better and better. I honestly think sometimes, it’s all just going to go downhill one year. (If you run an event this is like the actors nightmare for all event managers.) But it never does. It keeps getting better. And that’s because improvisers keep getting better. Changing, having their voices heard, leading the charge as artists and humans in their communities. Being open, supportive, empathizing, accepting of all and caring. It’s what our world needs now more then ever so keep spreading that, it will win. Lead by example and show he way.

Camp has changed my life. It has lifted me when times have been tough, it has given me a family for the rest of my life beyond camp. I’ll never get tired of seeing a nervous camper on the first day, have best friends by the end of it. I’ll never get tired of the amazing teachers that have graced our presence. I’ll never get tired of seeing the determination, talent and leadership of our campers in their communities.

This year marked my 40th birthday. I have been so touched by the outpour of support and not to mention cake! HA! It’s been a wild ride of ups and downs in my 30’s. Camp being the one thing that has been consistent in my life. It brings joy and love to me. And that is because of all of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Bring it on 2019!

Thank you for believing in camp. Thank you for believing in me.

Nick Armstrong