Photo credit: French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts
14. The French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, New York
French Woods is famous for their music, theater, and circus programs. They offer individual private lessons in every instrument played in a symphony orchestra, plus the rock and roll instruments and group performances in rock concerts, jazz concerts and pit orchestras that play for musical theater shows and symphony concerts. They have the largest children’s circus training facility in the world and their theater program will put on more than 77 theater performances (with live music) in five different theater spaces in 12 weeks.
French Woods is nestled around a 40 acre private natural lake, on 150 acres of developed land, surrounded by more than 700 acres of wilderness in the Catskill Mountains located just outside the town of Hancock, New York. They divide the day into six, one-hour periods, three majors (chosen in the first couple of days of a three week session and repeating every day at the same time) and three minors (chosen every morning at breakfast,) that can change as often as the child wants. There are literally more than 85 options every day.
What we love:
They have five theaters, plus a theater for magic, and a performing space for the music department and three stages for the Rock and Roll department. They’ve got sports facilities, a gymnastics pavilion, an indoor skateboard park and their circus pavilion is larger than a football field, with a ceiling that’s over 50 feet high. They even have an indoor riding ring, so the horseback riding kids can still have lessons on a rainy day. Their costume shop houses over 30,000 costume pieces and kids can learn to sew and design clothing and costumes.
French Woods provides almost all its own entertainment. The kids taking DJ classes play music for the other kids during canteen ant night. Kids in rock bands play for the other campers at canteen and have rock concerts several times a session. The kids learning magic do magic shows for camp in the evenings. There are dance performances, cabaret troupe performances (both of which travel to entertain other camps and resorts as well).
There are classical and jazz music concerts, and countless theater shows. This is part of what creates the unique atmosphere of peer support that happens at French Woods, because the child that’s watching this evening’s performance may be performing in his/her turn tomorrow, there’s incentive to cheer them on tonight so that they will cheer him/her on tomorrow.