mainstages Blog

Four Perfect Worksheets for an SEL Summer!

posted on Apr 01 2024, by Samantha Beneventano

At mainstages, we're dedicated to instilling values through social-emotional learning. We've created four free handouts filled with engaging activities for your kids to enjoy during down time between activities. These worksheets are designed to foster growth and connection. Let's dive into these resources and explore how to apply them in your camp setting!

The Magic of Music!

posted on Mar 04 2024, by Sara Hymes

Join mainstages for an interactive in-person session at ACA tri-states conference where you will learn how to playfully inspire confidence and strengthen communication through musical activities! Can't join us in person at the ACA? Receive the materials and more tips here!

4 Camp Programming Tips to Meet the Needs of Today’s Kids

posted on Feb 05 2024, by Matt Dorter

Kids are constantly evolving and the methods in which we as Camp Programming pros educate and engage campers should evolve too! That’s why after visiting 1000+ camps in nearly 15 years, we continue to re-tool and change what your mainstages summer entertainment looks like!

Using our summer tour goals as inspiration, here are four camp programming tips that can help you form an inclusive community in 2024!

Social Emotional Learning Through Theater

posted on Jan 31 2024, by Jo'Lisa Jones

Bring inclusive, culturally responsive, and diverse theater programs and shows to your community that align with NYC Department of Education’s Respect for All initiative!

How Do You Teach Children Perspective?

posted on Oct 15 2023, by Jo'Lisa Jones

Being a person in this mad and mixed up world is hard, and being a kid trying to navigate your emotional needs along with everyone else’s is even harder!

This season, we celebrate the unique nature of every child while giving them the tools to connect to others with our central theme: PERSPECTIVE.

How to Ensure a Quality Camp Performance!

posted on Jul 18 2023, by Matt Dorter

As a company that has 15 years of experience visiting hundreds of camps every summer, we have seen that the right circumstances can make all the difference to success. So, we’ve distilled down the four action steps a camp can take to create a welcoming environment for entertainers and ensure a quality camp performance.

Power Up Your Camp Staff!

posted on Feb 25 2023, by Jo'Lisa Jones

mainstages Artistic Director, Jo’Lisa Jones & Director of Programming, Courtney Cook-Naftz lead a relevant session about empowering and engaging staff to avoid burnout and build initiative! See the session details and get the supplemental materials.

Purim Games For Kids

posted on Feb 15 2023, by Eva Casey

Purim is coming soon and whether you're celebrating out with friends or just at home with the family, mainstages has got you covered! As an educational theater company, we appreciate the more theatrical elements of Purim, and we've put together some fun Purim games you can play anywhere!

Games to Play This Holiday Season!

posted on Dec 16 2022, by Jo'Lisa Jones

The holiday season has always been a time of relaxing, connecting and spreading joy with your loved ones. But, keeping these good vibes flowing during the holiday school break can be a real challenge. Luckily mainstages has got you covered no matter what you celebrate!

Check out some winter games...

Artistic Director Statement

posted on Nov 17 2022, by Jo'Lisa Jones

Fostering compassionate, inclusive and imaginative communities

I need theater to care more about why we are telling underrepresented stories, who are the people creating them and how equitable the process is. I was at a crossroads in my career, either continue my career solely being an actor or start my journey to become an Artistic Director.

Theater Games & Activities for Halloween

posted on Oct 17 2022, by Matt Dorter

Halloween is a dramatic holiday so it’s no surprise that theater people love it!  At mainstages we love a theme and a reason to get silly, or in this case, spooky!

Theater games and activities can easily be adapted for Halloween. Here are some fun activities you can do with your students, families (and even co-workers)  to get in the festive mood - they are easily adaptable across ages, grade levels, and don’t require a specific number of participants.

What Should Your Camp Do About Theater in Summer 2022?

posted on Jan 19 2022, by Matt Dorter

We all hope this summer will be next to “normal," but it might be another summer of social distancing, considering the role of visiting vendors and lack of field trips at your camp. 

While you have everything from archery to zip line to consider, at mainstages we have the luxury of focusing specifically on theater programming. As such, we’ve created a blueprint for camps with what they should do for their theater program this summer, based on camp type.

This blueprint will help you feel confident in your decision-making when it comes to the performing arts. Let's walk you through it!

The Cast List: What to Say Before, During, and After Auditions

posted on Dec 14 2021, by Courtney Cook Naftz

Most folks raising aspiring actors have had to deal with a devastated child on the day the cast list is posted. How to respond? What to say to make the child feel better or help them put the casting decisions into perspective?

3 Amazing Tips to Make your Classroom More Inclusive

posted on Sep 30 2021, by Jo'Lisa Jones

As our schools' populations increasingly diversify, it is important to make sure all students feel welcomed and included in the classroom. The following are a few easy tips to make your classroom a more inclusive environment:

Navigating Final Days of Camp: Celebrations and Goodbyes

posted on Jul 26 2021, by Jessica Pomeroy

Wow! It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. Camp staff and directors have been jumping through hoops to ensure that campers had the best summer ever, despite pandemic restrictions.

Top Tips for Dealing with Camp Burnout

posted on Jul 19 2021, by Jessica Pomeroy

We all know that halfway through the summer at camp, many of us start to feel stress and burnout. We are here to provide you with some strategies for overcoming burnout and making sure that you take good care of yourself throughout the summer so that you can feel strong and healthy while providing the best possible experience for your campers. These are our top tips for dealing with burnout and implementing some self-care while at camp!

The Future of Children's Programming in the "New Normal"

posted on Jul 15 2021, by Eva Casey

We asked our community to share their thoughts on the "new normal" of children's programming and performances going forward. Our hope was to gain a baseline understanding of where people's heads were at after the major disruptions of the past year. Here are a few infographics explaining the results:

Small Ways to Have Spontaneous Fun at Camp

posted on Jul 12 2021, by Jessica Pomeroy

By the middle of Summer, the days can begin to feel very long, and it is easy to feel like there are no new ways to incorporate spontaneous, fun moments at camp. This post will provide you with some ideas for creating small moments of fun that will keep the positive spirit going even through those hot, mid-summer camp days. Whether it be during transition time, on a rainy day or during unexpected downtime, here are some simple ways to make those moments happen!

Nature Hike: Connecting With Ourselves and Our Environment

posted on Jul 06 2021, by Jessica Pomeroy

If you're working with kids outdoors this summer, you're always looking for new ways to get kids moving and having fun. A nature hike is a great way to explore the campground, but it also offers an opportunity to use creative elements to teach about inner connection.

7 Camp Staff Bonding Activity Ideas

posted on Jun 29 2021, by Eva Casey

Building community is one of the best parts of camp! The first thing that most campers (and staff!) do when they arrive is an orientation for everyone to get to know each other. This initial opportunity for bonding is great, but as the summer goes on, it can be easy for both campers and staff to stick with people they already know, possibly alienating potential friends.

The Action Zone: Movement Games to Play at Camp

posted on Jun 24 2021, by Jessica Pomeroy

At camp, it’s always important to have a trick up your sleeve for entertaining kids on the fly. As a theater company that has been placing staff at camps nationwide for over 10 years, mainstages wants to ensure that our staff is prepared for anything. So if you’re a camp counselor or facilitator working with kids this summer, we have ideas for you!

The Pandemic: Finding Opportunities Within the Challenges

posted on May 10 2021, by Jessica Pomeroy

There are many difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the regulations and protocols surrounding theatre and camp. It is important, however, as educators, for us always to be searching for opportunities for innovation in every situation. 

Into the FUN-Known: Mastering FUN at Camp

posted on Mar 29 2021, by Eva Casey

The summer camp season for 2021 is almost upon us, and for mainstages, that means camp staffing season! This year is going to be different in a lot of ways, but we are all willing to be flexible in order to get kids back in-person again. Camp this year won't only be different out of necessity, but it should be different because the world has changed.

Passover Games to Play with Kids

posted on Mar 08 2021, by Eva Casey

Passover is an excellent opportunity to spend time with loved ones and friends, but what about keeping the kids entertained? Read on for some fun games and activities to do with kids come Passover!

8 Tips for Safe Entertainment at Summer Camp in 2021

posted on Mar 01 2021, by Eva Casey

For other live entertainment companies like ours, check out our 8 tips to ensure safe entertainment for summer camps in 2021.

How to Throw a Virtual Birthday Party on Zoom

posted on Jan 11 2021, by Eva Casey

Are you hosting a virtual birthday party for a friend or family member? Since this is a scenario that many of us have not found ourselves in before, it can be hard to know how to make the experience live up to an in-person birthday party. At mainstages, we have been hosting virtual birthday parties on Zoom since April, and we’ve learned a LOT about what makes an unforgettable virtual birthday party. Read on for our top tips on how to make the most out of YOUR virtual birthday party.

Training Teachers for Remote Learning Facilitation

posted on Sep 16 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

Training staff to be good in-person facilitators is tricky enough, but training them to facilitate through a screen adds a new layer of challenges. There’s so much to discuss, from handling technology to choosing the right activities to keep kids engaged . . . where do you even start?

mainstages Comedy LIVE!

posted on Sep 08 2020, by Eva Casey

When we were brainstorming ideas for virtual programs to offer this summer, we knew we wanted to offer something that would be a fun escape for kids but also give them an outlet to express themselves creatively. I had always wanted to teach kids about sketch comedy, and it seemed that now was my opportunity! I threw out the idea of something like SNL, but for kids, and mainstages Comedy LIVE! came into being.

How We Pivoted Our Business Model During the Pandemic

posted on Aug 03 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

As a company that previously existed to provide in-person performances and programming, the current pandemic has required us to do some extreme pivoting in these last months. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned a lot in the process!

How to Put on a Virtual Production Program

posted on Jul 27 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

When we decided to take our spring production programs online, we had no idea what we were getting into. How complicated could it be to record a few scenes and edit them together? A lot more complicated than we thought.

Top Tips for Virtual Family Fun Nights

posted on Jul 15 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

Congratulations! You successfully navigated 6 other family’s schedules and got your entire extended family on zoom together! Now you’re all on at the same time, staring at the screen together and . . . now what?

Top Tips for Summer Celebrations at Home!

posted on Jul 06 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

This summer, we can’t celebrate in quite the same way. We can’t have huge parties, and we probably won’t be able to travel as much. This summer will be different, but that doesn’t mean we should lose the spirit of summer! We can still celebrate, no matter where we are, and celebrate BIG! Check out these top tips for summer celebrations at home!

Having Fun at Home with mainstages

posted on Jun 30 2020

Check back later for more opportunities to have fun at home with mainstages characters Bubbe and Mitzvah Man!

Black Lives Matter

posted on Jun 10 2020, by Matt Dorter

Right now, people across the country are protesting not only police violence against Black people, but also the systemic racism that has plagued our country since its inception.

As an educational theater company, we have a responsibility to address head-on the relevant topics that kids are confronting today and help them process uncomfortable emotions in a way that provides a safe context for expression.

Top Tips for Hosting an Awesome Pre-K Virtual Birthday Party

posted on May 27 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

Hosting a virtual birthday party is very different from hosting an in-person party... especially when the birthday star is only four years old! Here's how you can create a special experience that will keep everyone from the youngest to the oldest entertained!

Take 5 to Flex: Fun Fresh Ways to Practice Mental Dexterity

posted on May 25 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

Now, more than ever, it's important to flex our minds! In a society where we are now forced to depend on screens for learning, work, and entertainment, it’s more important than ever to take breaks and stretch our minds so they don’t become mush.

New Values, New Future

posted on May 18 2020, by Matt Dorter

For 10 years, our 4 C’s-- community, character, confidence, and creativity-- have been embedded, like a gps chip, in the back of my head. They have served as my navigation, keeping me centered to the super objective of mainstages: using creativity in education to make kids into better humans. Those 4 C’s have informed the very soul of our business . . . and now they're not enough. As the world has shifted and our business has pivoted to stay relevant, we've been compelled to take a closer look at what truly defines us: what values exist at the core of mainstages.

Top Tips to Maximize Zoom Sessions for Kids

posted on Apr 09 2020, by Taylor Ann Spencer

We have been testing lots of ideas and we would like to share some of our top tips for how to make your Zoom classes for kids meet their fullest potential.

Featured Game: Statues

posted on Feb 19 2020

You can move... just don't get caught by the night watch at the museum! Learn one of our most popular curriculum games!

The Creative Impact Zone

posted on Feb 04 2020, by Matt Dorter

As mainstages enters our 10th year, I am taking the time to consider all of our different offerings and where we’ve had the most success in the past. Channeling the spirit of Russell Crowe in ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ I summoned up a diagram that introduces our secret formula for creative impact.

Tips for Memorizing Lines

posted on Dec 15 2019

Need help memorizing lines? Here are a few suggestions for getting off-book (not needing the script) in no time!

5 Events to Boost Camp Spirit All Year Long

posted on Nov 04 2019, by Eva Casey

There are many ways to boost camp spirit all year long, but here are five of our favorite ideas for connecting with your campers before next summer!

10 Lessons From 10 Years

posted on Oct 19 2019, by Matt Dorter

Matt Dorter here! I want to share the 10 most important lessons that I’ve learned in the past 10 years, as we grew mainstages from an inspiration to a full-fledged business.

8 Crazy Games for 8 Crazy Nights

posted on Oct 16 2019

Chanukah is a wonderful time of year to come together with friends and family, but what happens when the kids need something fun to do, or when the conversation doesn’t last as long as the oil? Here are 8 fun games centered around Chanukah that are fun for the whole family!

Mainstages Summer 2019 By The Numbers

posted on Jun 04 2019, by Eva Casey

Though it may already be fall, we can't stop remembering what an amazing summer we had! In addition to birthday parties, Bar/Bat Mitzvah entertainment, and running theater programming at over 25 camps, we also performed nationwide 167 times. That factors to around 2.493 shows per day, at 62 different camps. Take a look at some more fun metrics from summer 2019:

Theater Vocabulary for Kids

posted on Nov 13 2018

Enjoy this list of our favorite theater vocabulary! Useful in all theater education settings and selected to serve the needs of student and educator.

What Makes an Awesome Camp Program?

posted on Nov 12 2018

While we weigh factors like the number of participants, venue logistics, ages, etc., there is only one true way to know what will make a program awesome at a camp- LISTEN TO CAMPS.

Featured Game: Name and Motion

posted on Sep 19 2018

Get to know people with this great icebreaker for kids!

Featured Game: Slideshow

posted on Aug 17 2018

Play one of our most popular improv games for all ages, Slideshow! In this game, participants make tableau imagery of improvised situations.

Making Teen Programming Cool

posted on May 21 2018

There is one question that is asked of us more than any other, "How do we engage our teens?" The language teenagers speak is ever evolving and what's cool one day may be lame another (do kids say "lame" anymore?) We can simply dismiss our teenagers as cynical and "plugged in" OR we can create programming that teenagers will like.

Managing Difficult Behavior

posted on Nov 16 2017

Any experienced educator will tell you that managing a group of kids is the key to facilitating an effective lesson or rehearsal. This resource will provide you with proven techniques to engage kids of all ages, keep them focused, and avoid disciplinary action.