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Going Back to Boot Camp

Posted on August 12, 2016 by Shelby Rees

Yesterday, I was racing through the stage door to collect my shiny new folder (I always hoped for red), full of unsung songs and untold stories waiting just for me. My friends and I contemplated for hours which show we’d be doing this year, knowing it was useless to attempt to read Brandon’s mind. I still remember that moment of adrenaline when I cracked that spine and sifted through the set list, teeming with new ideas before I even read the script.

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(I’m on the far right)

Now, I’m the one passing out the folders. I’m the one ushering in a new wave of future triple threats just like I always dreamed of being. I’m the one imparting wisdom I earned through my own experiences at Boot Camp. I’m working alongside some of the same people who helped me in my journey. And to say the least: it’s trippy.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of my campers. I still get that electricity in my veins when I hear the echoes of “New York, New York” as I’m walking down the hall. Yes, I’m singing quietly to myself in the back row of music class. Yes, I’m in the wings during dance, marking the choreography. Yes, I’m always hoping we play The Game of Threes. It’s almost like I never left, like no matter where I went or how long I was gone, Boot Camp was always waiting for me to come home. And it truly does feel like a home for me.

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I could bore you with endless tales of “when I was in Boot Camp,” but how this entity has evolved is the real story. I watch these actors harmonizing expertly, doing elegant dances steps I can’t even spell, and taking risks like it’s second nature and I have to wonder how I ever made it through. These performers are tough. They go for it. They make strong choices and they don’t apologize. Sometimes they fall, but they always get back up, something I occasionally still struggle to do.

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I’m almost twenty-two. I’m going to graduate school for theatre education. I’m supposed to have it all figured out. But these students, my “friendos,” are constantly teaching me. I never expected to learn so much from them. I learned to accept my limitations and overcome them from a middle schooler who missed a kick-ball-change but sold me a story. I’ve seen my younger friends grow into strong young men and women with powerful gifts and the discipline to refine them. I learned the simple beauty of friendship from a little girl who gave me an imaginary cheese taco when I was hungry. And, perhaps most importantly, there will always be magic to do.