Summer Youth Camp Wraps Up

George Daily Summer Youth Camp (file photo)

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The George Daily Summer Youth Camp just wrapped up its 20th year of providing learning opportunities for area youth.

Andy McGuire, Education Director and Lead Teacher at George Daily Auditorium, spoke with Oskaloosa News about his seven years leading the Summer Youth Camp.

Back in 1999, the Summer Youth Camp started as a project, “what if we did this,” and it operated in much the same way the camp operates today.

Today, there are multiple weeks, and each week has a different theme.

The youth theater director grew into a part-time position and became a full-time position when McGuire arrived in 2013.

Since taking the reins in 2013, McGuire says that camper favorites have found a way to pop up multiple times. Only musical theater has been a part of the Summer Youth Camp for all seven years.

McGuire says the change over time is that as summer camp has become more complicated. “I don’t know which comes first, because our camps have gotten more complicated because our campers have gotten better.”

“But I can’t tell you if they’ve gotten better because of our camps, or our camps got better because our campers are really good. It’s kind of a chicken and the egg situation. At this point, I think they press us to be better, and hopefully, we challenge them to be better too.”

“The whole mission of the Youth Theatre is to create and build skills and collaboration and communication and creativity and critical thinking,” added McGuire, who also hopes to build positive citizenship along the way.

“Theatre is a great tool for teaching teamwork. Theater is a great tool for teaching communication. We’re always trying to find the best way to build the best citizens for our community, and understanding how to create projects and how to accomplish goals with a group. That’s what we use theatre for. Hopefully, we challenge our students as much as they challenge us.”

McGuire has had several students return year after year, being a part of the youth camps the entire time he’s been here leading them. “It’s been really interesting to have the first real group, that has been here for us the whole time we’ve been here, getting ready to move on to their next stage in their journey.”

The experience of watching those veteran students working with young students made for some memories that stand out in McGuire’s mind.

This year’s musical theatre camp has fourth-grade through twelfth-grade students working together. “You could see fourth graders doing choreography that was hard. Then you can see behind them are the high schoolers, some of them at the very end of that journey, and it’s not easy for them, but they are up to the challenge.”

“So you see where those high schoolers were when they were fourth-graders. Simultaneously, you see where these fourth graders are going to be in the next six years,” added McGuire. “I think that was maybe the first real visualization of that growth.”

Looking towards the future of the George Daily Summer Youth Camp, “There is a large universe in front of us for what to do,” says McGuire of visioning for the next 20 years.

For McGuire, those next 20 years will continue “to bring us really great students with really great creative ideas, who will learn how to be the best people they can be.”

“One of the things that I’m really interested in seeing the theater grow into is something that really tackles the idea of understanding what it really means to be a citizen within your community.”

“I grew up really wanting to leave my community in rural Iowa, and I did,” said McGuire. “I worked in Chicago, and I worked in the Twin Cities, Des Moines. I spent some time in London. Now I’m in a community about the same size as the one I grew up, and I have a totally different appreciation for what that brings. So what I really would like to do is help students to see that your community can be anywhere, but what are you going to do to help make your community better? I hope that the George Daily Auditorium has as positive effects and impact in the community as it has on me personally. I hope that our Youth Theatre students really work to bring that same impact to the community; that sounds really great. I have no idea how really to make that work, but we’re going to keep trying.

For McGuire personally, one of those moments in time that resonates with him revolves around Robin Hood, from a Robin Hood camp.

“So we had this moment where we had some of our longest campers directing. They were learning to direct, which doesn’t normally happen in youth theater programs — especially not ones in towns of the size of Oskaloosa.”

“But we have kids that have worked so hard, they really understand. When we started the camp, I was like, You don’t know this, but I’ve been teaching you how to be a director for like six years. So this is just applying what I’ve been telling you to do on stage and giving those directions to other people.”

“And there was this time where we had our college students as staff, who are also, though not all specifically on their journey for theatre, but are in their specific journeys in relation to working with children. Whether that’s their teachers all the time or not, it depends. But we had this, afternoons where we would be working and teaching the directing students how to be giving directions. Then we would also have our college students who would be working with that as well. And so you would see our younger students acting, and then you would see our directing students directing. Then you would see our college students, that we’ve been trying to teach to be teachers, giving directions to the directing students. Then we would stop and give directions to them, and it would all kind of like, waterfall down.”

” And it was just a unique moment, where you got to see everything happening. And we had a showcase. It was great, it was fun. But when you have a showcase for us, all of our programs are so process-based that no one but us got to see that moment. It’s really, maybe unfair, we get to see all these wonderful, educational like, light bulbs turn on. But no one else gets to see that like we do.”

You can learn more about the George Daily Summer Youth Camp by visiting their website at

Posted by on Aug 11 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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