When Steve Couch -- the director of the for the last 18 years -- calls the camp a cult, he is only half kidding.
The kids who have gone to Couch's camp know that it is a special place with its own quirks, culture and even language. And it certainly has a following.
This February, when registration opened for Wildwood Theatre Camp, it only took 15 minutes for all three sessions to fill up and for a waiting list to start accumulating names.
That's about 100 kids who were all waiting for the chance to join or return to the cult.
"We and that's the highlight," Couch said. "But anyone who saw the show only saw about half of what camp is."
And what is Wildwood Theatre Camp?
A chance to play.
Yes, they stage a performance -- which Couch writes and directs for them each year -- but they also play improvisational games, shoot each other with water guns and whip dodge balls at each other.
(An example of Wildwood Theatre's unique language: they call dodge ball, Fireball. And why Fireball? "Because dodge ball implies we sometimes miss," Couch said.)
And, by playing, these kids learn more about themselves.
Some of the Wildwood alumni have gone on to perform in traveling theater shows, Disney tours and movies. Some never act again after leaving the camp, But no child is left unchanged.
"They gain confidence," Couch said. "They gain creativity."
For his hard work, Couch recently an award from the Community Arts Commission during a performance of his campers' show, .
And while Couch's first reaction when asked about the award was to note that it's all about the kids, he also added, "It's nice when people outside of our cult recognize what we do."
While there are no more openings for the Theatre Camp this year, kids can always register next year. In the mean time, make sure to catch the July session's performance of .