Act 3, Scene 1

Camp Snapshot

Long Lake Camp for the Arts

Long Lake, N.Y

Cost per three-week session: $2,950-$3,450

Cost per six-week session: $5,500

Cost per nine-week session: $7,000

Ages: 10-16

Related Article: Artistic License

The first hour is spent rehearsing for an off-Broadway production. The second hour rolls around and you’re elbow deep in pottery clay. Better clean up quick, because your voice teacher doesn’t like smudges on her sheet music…

And so it goes at Long Lake Camp for the Arts, nestled in one of the Northeast’s most picturesque settings within the Adirondack National Forest Preserve.

What you find as you approach Long Lake is an impressive array of fieldstone buildings from an earlier time when this was a private estate, and a number of auditorium and production facilities where 10-16 year olds are immersed in almost every type of art imaginable.

Surrounded by forest and mountains, these campers have the option of waterskiing, soccer, horseback riding, and just about any activity you can think of at any traditional camp. There’s one important exception… Most are intensely focused on performing and fine arts, and the other activities are merely diversions.

“There are actually quite athletic, energetic kids coming to our camp. If they want to go water skiing or whatever, they can,” says camp owner Marc Katz. “In a lot of camps sports are 80 percent, while ours is maybe 10 or 20 percent. I have kids who are in national tournaments for tennis and soccer, but they’re coming to Long Lake because they love music, drama, film or something else. They’re intense, well-focused kids — and I’m not saying they’re particularly talented. This is what they love, this is what they want to do and they don’t get a chance to do it enough or at all at home.”

Katz adds that Long Lake Camp has “traditional camping values, we still have camp fires and we promote togetherness.”

Katz’s father, David, was an orchestral conductor in New York City who started the camp as a “hobby” with his wife Jeannie.

About 14 years ago, Katz laughingly says he “bought the camp in a leveraged buyout” and continued the tradition, while taking the camp beyond hobby to something Katz describes as “very intense and serious.”

Interviewing the Interviewer

About 250 campers fill the roster at Long Lake Camp for each of the three-week sessions from June through August. With more than 100 counselors staffing it, the programming is obviously diverse and often individualized.

These 100 or so counselors are professionals in their respective art fields. While one may wield a brush, another a baton, they all have one thing in common — they’re all devoted to their discipline and to teaching kids.

“My photo teacher thinks life revolves around capturing it in pictures — that’s her intensity, that’s her love. When she brings that to camp, everyone picks up on that and has a good time,” says Katz. “Then you multiply that by 140 people who think that what they’re doing is equally as important and fun.”

With so much staff, it’s no wonder that Katz says it’s the secret to Long Lake Camp’s success. It’s a common thread among camps, but perhaps nowhere is this staff truism more apparent than at Long Lake Camp.

Katz is looking for more than just an intense love for art in its varying forms, but someone who can handle the camp experience. Some may be great directors or musicians, but it takes someone special to fit into the camp mold.

“A lot of counselors who come to our camp ask for references. I’m not so sure that a lot of people would do that,” says Katz. “It means they care and that they’re willing to go the extra step to make sure they’re making the right decision. That’s a very mature thing from a 21 year old.”

Katz rarely interviews potential staff in person, preferring to use their portfolio and a telephone interview to make his decisions.

“People are looser on the phone. You can get them to spill the beans more when they’re not directly in front of you,” says Katz. “You’re able to make people feel more comfortable when they’re not looking you in the eyes. You can probe them better and get to know what’s in their heart a little easier when you’re not face to face, believe it or not. The phone has a marvelous way of breaking barriers.”

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