NMH signs accord to continue hosting free performing arts camp


Staff Writer

Published: 04-02-2023 12:50 PM

GILL — Northfield Mount Hermon School has signed a three-year agreement to continue hosting the annual Summer Stars Camp for the Performing Arts, a free program that uplifts economically disadvantaged children through creativity and collaboration.

The agreement is an extension of a partnership that has seen the free nine-day performing arts camp hosted at NMH for more than a decade. NMH houses all campers and staff through the program, which is in its 24th year and will run from Aug. 6 to 14. Plus, the NMH admissions team helps campers and their families apply to private schools and colleges during the camp.

According to Nina Biggar Del Vecchio, director of development for Summer Stars, the camp predominantly draws children ages 12 to 17 from Massachusetts, New York City and New Jersey, but has had pupils from across the Northeast. Many campers, she said, have had limited life experience outside of their immediate circumstances, which typically involves living in an underprivileged city setting.

“Many of our campers come from urban communities, so our partnership with a prestigious school in rural western Massachusetts adds a special element to our camp experience,” Donna Milani Luther, founding director of the Summer Stars Foundation, said in a statement. “From the minute our kids step off the bus, they know they are going to be a part of something remarkable.”

“It’s really important because I think oftentimes, kids grow up in a city or town and don’t necessarily leave it,” Del Vecchio added. “I think their worlds get bigger … and they start realizing their potential and what’s possible.”

Luther touted NMH’s “wonderful combination of stunning beauty and state-of-the-art performance facilities” as a primary reason for why the camp keeps coming back.

“I think it literally gives them the space to think and feel and create,” Del Vecchio said of NMH and its “beautiful rolling hills.”

The environment, staff said, is directly conducive to the activities students engage in at the camp, such as acting, musical theater, choral singing, dance, instrumental performance, set design, juggling, puppetry, drumming and music video creation. Applicants are only required to have an interest in the arts; no experience is necessary.

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“Summer Stars is really all about risk-taking and trying new things,” camper Iggy Phenix said in a video promoting the program. “I enjoyed every risk that I took.”

This hunger to grow aligns with NMH’s mission, according to Head of School Brian Hargrove.

“Summer Stars’ work to serve, train and provide personal development opportunities to their students while removing financial barriers mirrors the promise upon which NMH was founded,” Hargrove said in a statement.

Families interested in applying for the camp can do so at summerstars.org/come-to-camp.

The camp is supported entirely by donations. Those interested in donating to the program can do so at bit.ly/42O3WZ9.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.