Summer Camp in February!

It’s already February, and that means (believe it or not) that CYT summer camp planning is well on its way! CYT affiliates combined put on over 150 summer camps around the country each year. Each camp ends with a musical performance, showcasing material that students learned throughout the week. That’s a lot of singing, acting and dancing!

New CYT camp themes for 2015 include “Camp Awesome” (a totally, radical 80s inspired camp), “Camp All Aboard” (where campers travel via cruise ship to tropical locations around the globe), and “Aladdin” (CYT’s own adaptation of the classic tale). To find out more about the specific camps that CYT offers, email Renee@cyt.org.

In addition to using our own CYT in-house published materials, CYT also offer its students access to great shows that we’ve sourced from outside publishing companies. For example, last summer, CYT San Antonio performed Freckleface Strawberry based on the New York Times bestselling book by Julianne Moore, as part of one of their teen CYT Camps.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Freckle face Strawberry the Musical – Photo by Carol Rosegg

Check out the fun news that CYT San Antonio’s Artistic Director, Sandi Mitchell, shared with us about that production of Freckleface Strawberry:

“The lyricist and songwriter for Freckleface Strawberry (the musical we did last summer as a teen camp) contacted us!  He even posted info (about our production) and our video on his Facebook page. What a tremendous honor! When one of our teens, Lauren Tysdal, heard that he had posted our video on his Facebook page she immediately said, ‘By people watching it and finding out what CYT is, it could open the doors for them to learn about Jesus! All glory to God!'”

CYT San Antonio

CYT San Antonio

And you thought it was just another summer camp! At CYT we don’t do “just” anything.

Don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for a CYT camp near you! Go to CYT.org and search for a camp in your town!

CYT Student Reflection: Nicole McCartney

Recently, CYT Founders, Sheryl & Paul Russell, shared the following letter they received from a grateful CYT Santa Cruz student named Nicole McCartney. Enjoy Nicole’s letter reprinted below.

Santa Cruz CYTer, Nicole McCartney enjoying the surf & the CYT spirit.

Santa Cruz CYTer, Nicole McCartney, enjoying the surf & the CYT spirit.

Dear Sheryl and Paul Russell,
My name is Nicole McCartney, and I am in eighth grade at Scotts Valley Middle School. I want to thank you and tell you how much CYT has greatly impacted my life.

I started CYT Santa Cruz about a year ago and was feeling a bit nervous. Within hours, I had already made so many friends that I still continue to laugh with today. The welcoming spirit at CYT has gotten me through so many rough times, and I appreciate how CYT has not just helped me grow in musical theatre, but taught me how to be a better leader and friend to others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope you understand how much CYT has changed many lives, including mine. I would love to hear back from you both to find out how CYT has inspired you the most. Once again, thank you so much for everything you have done at CYT and continue to inspire more lives every day.

Sincerely,
Nicole McCartney

Thanks for your testimony, Nicole! Keep enjoying that awesome CYT spirit & inspiring others to do the same. 

Unity at CYT NLC 2015

Special thank you to CYT Founder, Paul Russell, for the following blog post, which reflects on the recent CYT National Leadership Conference in Lafayette, LA.

CYT Founders, Paul & Sheryl Russell enjoying the southern hospitality at the 2015 CYT NLC.

CYT Founders, Paul & Sheryl Russell enjoying the southern hospitality at the 2015 CYT NLC.

Last week, CYT Affiliates from around the country came together for the National Leadership Conference (NLC). CYT is blessed to have some of the most outstanding leaders making a difference in the lives of over 18,000 young people every year. CYT Lafayette hosted the 2015 CYT NLC, and provided all the gracious southern hospitality one would expect. According to Tonja Rainey, the Artistic Director at CYT Baton Rouge, “This was the best Leadership Conference that I’ve ever been too.”

The 2015 CYT theme focuses on Unity. The entire event encouraged our leaders to join together, unified as CYT leadership. Check out the daily synopses below to find out just how that was accomplished at this year’s NLC:

Friday 1/23/2015

Pastor and CYT Inc. Board Member, Tom Kirkendall, kicked off the event with a message for ourleaders to Equip, Empower, Encourage and Encounter. He also introduced the 2015 CYT Theme of Unity, inspired by Romans 15: 5-7: 
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Next, Paul Russell gave the affiliates a new way to remember the CYT core values as well as to pray for all the CYTs across the country every time we see a penny.
CYT leadership of all generations! #NLC2015

CYT leadership of all generations! #NLC2015

Then, there was time for Affiliates to meet with other CYT leaders and share ideas, problems and highlights. The leaders enjoyed great times of prayer, laughter and heartache as we encouraged each other in our Mission.
 
Dinner was held at Chris’ Poboys and everyone got their fill of fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried okra, or fried chicken. It didn’t matter what you ordered, it came out fried! A great time of sharing and fellowship was had by all!
 
Saturday 1/24/2015
Saturday morning began with a workshop on suicide prevention from Dr. Theresa A. Wozencraft, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After that somber, yet important and educational, session we were ready for some fun.
 
Keith Washington from the CYT Inc. Board explained the finances and how Affiliates’ fees were allocated and spent. Yes, even CYT Inc. has to raise money to exist.
 
Renee Kaufman (Creative Director, CYT Inc.) got everyone pumped up on the new products featured in the CYT Online Store. Between Renee and Heather LaForge (Director of Operations, CYT Inc.), we now all know everything there is to know about copyrights, use of logos, trademarks and how each affiliate can make more money by supporting the CYT Store.
 
Becca Wilds from CYT Indy did an outstanding workshop on HR. That’s right – HR! Go figure. How can anyone make HR interesting? Becca has a gift! She had the entire hall laughing out loud and applauding with wonderful information on Human Resources. No kidding – she received a standing ovation! We all want to grow up someday and be Becca!
 
CYT Lafayette hosted a wonderful catered lunch with pork sandwiches and the best bread pudding on the planet. Honestly! With all the sweet tea, sweet bread, sweet beignets, and sweet people, it’s almost too much to take!
 
Travis Russell, Director of Communications at CYT Inc. at the NLC 2015.

Travis Russell, Director of Communications at CYT Inc. at the NLC 2015.

Travis Russell (Director of Communications, CYT Inc.) gave an update on the new CYT software that is coming out this summer and introduced a new marketing strategy to get lots of new email contacts. SMILE: it’s a photo booth!
 
Allison Mayberry from CYT Fredericksburg was full of fresh and new ideas on how to use social media and community involvement to create buzz about CYT. This lady knows how to get the CYT name out there and knows how to build partnerships with local business.
Allison rocks and she does it on a CYT budget!
 
One of the highlights was an acting workshop given by Tyler Hutchinson of CYT Indy. He had the entire room engaged with what it means to be an actor. He pulled people from the audience to illustrate his points. Our students are lucky to work with such fine Artistic Directors as Tyler. He’s got the heart, and enthusiasm and the attitude to change the world. (Note: Tyler will be leading many of the student events at the 2015 EXPO!)
 
Sheryl Russell (CFO, CYT Inc.) ended the days session with a challenge to, “LEAD with DILIGENCE, ATTITUDE, ENCOURAGEMENT, and LOVE.”  It’s apparent that God is doing mighty work throughout CYT via our awesome leadership all over the U.S.A.
 
Gerald and Patti Broussard and Dana Bekurs (of CYT Lafayette), made Saturday night especially memorable by renting out a Footloose-eque Dance Hall for the CYT leaders to enjoy.
All they wanted to do was dance. #NLC2015. Image courtesy of Katrina DeRoche.

All they wanted to do was dance. #NLC2015. Image & caption courtesy of Katrina DeRoche.

Everyone was treated to authentic Cajun food, (Boudin sausages, red beans and rice, and fried hush puppies) and live Zydeco music. Everyone danced the night away, even learning the Louisiana two step.
CYT leaders, Tanya Tafolla & Katrina DeRoche get musical at the 2015 NLC.

CYT leaders, Tanya Tafolla & Katrina DeRoche, from CYT San Diego, get musical at the 2015 NLC.

It’s always a hassle to get to the CYT National Leadership Conference, but once you get there it’s one of the highlights of the year. On that note, make sure you start saving up for 2015 EXPO in San Diego this summer! You won’t want to miss out on the fun & fellowship.
 
A huge thanks goes to Gerald and Patti Broussard, Dana Bekurs, and the entire staff of CYT Lafayette. It truly was a remarkable weekend and they are, indeed, the hostess with the most-est! Y’all are some’um special.


Thanks for the reflections, Paul!

2015 My CYT Story Competition!

It’s that time again! Has your life been impacted by CYT? Tell us how, and you might be the next “My CYT Story” competition winner! You’re officially invited to participate in the 3rd annual nationwide CYT Essay Competition, where one winner from each Affiliate will win a free registration to the 2015 National CYT EXPO in San Diego, CA from June 21-24th!

Competition Details:

  • In 500 words or less, tell us what CYT has done in your life
  • Submit your story to your local affiliate’s Artistic Director by April 1, 2015
  • Stories will be read anonymously by your affiliate’s Board of Directors and a local winner will be selected by May 1, 2015

For the sake of clarification/ultimate excitement: there will be one winner per participating affiliate (ask your local Artistic Director if you’re participating), and each individual champ will receive a free registration.

  • Each winner will be submitted to CYT Inc, from which a GRAND WINNER will be selected
  • On Opening Night of CYT’s EXPO, all winners will be recognized and a grand winner will be announced
  • The grand winner gets bragging rights, a feature on the National Blog, and a free CYT sweatshirt from the CYT store!

Happy writing!

2014 My CYT Story Winner - Aubrey Muffett (with Paul Russell, Heather La Forge and Sheryl Russell)

2014 My CYT Story Winner – Aubrey Muffett (with Paul Russell, Heather La Forge and Sheryl Russell)

Here’s a excerpt from last year’s winner, Aubrey Muffett from CYT Sacramento.

“No other community of brave, precious souls could have planted and grown me so securely in Him, all the while allowing me a chance and plenty of room for my once timid personality to unfurl. I have been more warmly accepted and firmly encouraged at CYT than any other group. CYT has helped me develop different characters on stage, but even more so my identity in Christ.”

Oh Po Boy, it’s the NLC 2015

 

NLC poster

Next Friday and Saturday (January 23 & 24), CYT leadership will gather for the National Leadership Conference (NLC). This year, the lovely folks at CYT Lafayette, will host the NLC. To get a feel for the magic & mayhem sure to ensue, I did a quick Q&A with one of the NLC coordinators, Dr. Heather LaForge (sound familiar? She’s also the Director of Operations over at CYT Inc.). Here’s what she had to say:

What is the NLC?
The NLC (National Leadership Council) Conference is a gathering of CYT Leadership from across the nation. We gather twice: once in January at the appropriately named “NLC Conference” and once during EXPO.

When did it start & why?
The NLC was started in 2006 and was a gathering of Board of Directors from across the country. As a group they firmed up the CYT Model that we now share with all of our affiliates. Their initial purpose was designed “to give input to the National CYT Board of Directors as it preserves and extends the Vision/Mission/Values of CYT Programs across the nation.”

Is there a theme for this year’s NLC?
We choose a theme for the year that goes along with our EXPO theme and is based on the expressed needs of the affiliates. This year’s 2015 theme is “Unity Starts At Home.” Our 2015 Verse that goes along with our theme is Romans 15:5-7.

Who is attending?
Typically at the NLC we see the Board Chairs, ADs, MDs, and ACs . But in the past years, we’ve seen an increase of other staff too, which has been so great! More board members are attending as well as marketing personnel, costumers, and more. The NLC is a wonderful opportunity to sit down and learn from one another. It’s a uniting experience, as we all realized how connected CYT is.

What is the goal of the NLC?
We believe the NLC is an opportunity for training, the sharing of experiences, and encouragement.

How do you choose a host city?
Well, there’s a number of ways, but since it’s in January and the conference is so short (1.5 days), we try to aim for a warm location! But last year, Atlanta experienced freezing weather while we were there, so our plans didn’t quite work. However, we all made it and had a ball all snuggled together.

NLC 2014

CYT Leadership gathered for the 2014 NLC in beautiful Atlanta. Look at all that joyful leadership!

This isn’t the first NLC you’ve attended, correct?
I’ve been the past two years, since the NLC went on hiatus while I was the AD of CYT Santa Cruz. When I started working for CYT Inc., Sheryl Russell and I decided that we really needed to offer a time for affiliates to gather outside of EXPO, so we quickly planned the NLC in 2013 in Houston.

What was your fave part about previous NLCs?

My favorite part over the past years has been the opportunity for CYT leadership to gather and really focus on our collective mission of service. Our annual EXPO is super fun, and totally exhausting because of all the students in attendance. However, the NLC is different: still so fun, but really different in its focus. We gather without the students, as like-minded adults, to discuss the best way to lead our kids. I love hearing the stories of what goes on around the country. We get dedicated time to talk about potential ideas for the nation. The My CYT Story Competition came out of an idea from CYT Indy at the 2013 NLC.

What is your job at the NLC this year?
I’m hosting again. I’m sure someday people will get tired of seeing me up front (since I host at EXPO too).

Dr. Heather LaForge. #nlcface #expoface #yestheyarethesameface

Dr. Heather LaForge. #nlcface #expoface #yestheyarethesameface

 For now, however, I host because I’m the one who works with the host city and selects the speakers. I love working with people on what they will share. It feels like we never have enough time for all the ideas!

Any shout outs to key peeps helping out at this year’s NLC?
Dana Berkus (Board Member of CYT Lafayette) has been incredibly helpful. She found our hotel, arranged our meals, got a guest speaker, etc. She’s amazing! Also everyone at CYT Lafayette has been incredibly helpful, as well as our CYT Inc. staff of course.

Ok. Last question. If the NLC was an animal, what animal would it be?
A Narwhal. (Obviously)

NLC. #NarwhalsLoveChrist

NLC. #NarwhalsLoveChrist

Wow. A Narwhal in Lafayette. Well, I for one, can’t wait to see those pictures.Thanks for the deets, Heather!

Please contact Heather@cyt.org with any questions regarding NLC. For more on the Narwhal, go here.

Act, Sing, Dance, & Live!

It’s 2015! Can you believe it? One of my fave CYT mantras is “Act, Sing, Dance, Live!” I’m gonna try to do more of all of those things in 2015 and not just in the theatre! Maybe I’ll even get myself a little mug with that slogan on there as a reminder…

CYT Mug

Should this be your 2015 resolution, too? Grab a mug for yourself here.

 

What a thrill to begin a new year full of possibility and so many opportunities to Act, Sing, Dance, & Live. One of the new opportunities I’ve been presented with, is communicating with you all here on this blog. My name is Summer Moshy, and I will be just one of the voices you will be hearing from this year on the CYT Blog (I’m also the Curriculum Developer at CYT, Inc.). Another contributing voice will be Renee Kauffman (our Creative Director at Inc.), as well as a host of other magically exciting individuals (because, honestly, Renee & I can only be captivating like once a month, at most, and since this is a weekly blog, well, you can do the math). Krista, our previous blog editor, did an amazing job in this capacity and we hope to continue spreading the light & joy as she did while at the helm of our blog.

Act, Sing, Dance, & Live! Phew, that’s a lot to do all at once. (Quiet down all of you triple-threats out there…sheesh.)

Maybe I’ll start with just the Act part, first…

Act, literally means, “to do something” (in fact, the word “drama” comes from the Ancient Greek word, “dran” meaning, “to do”).  One of the best things we can do, is let others know that we see them and what they are doing, and that what they are doing matters to us. Lonliness and invisibility hurts so deeply. So, let’s work together to let each other know, “Hey! I see you over there! And I like it!” If you feel so called, check out these CYT affiliates Facebook pages (linked below) and let them know you see them by “liking” their pages, or better, yet, go see one of their shows & like them in person!

CYT Atlanta

CYT Baton Rouge

CYT Denver

CYT Fredericksburg

CYT Houston

CYT Indianapolis

CYT Kansas City

CYT Lafayette

CYT Nashville

CYT New York City

CYT North Idaho

CYT Phoenix

CYT Portland

CYT Riverside

CYT Sacramento

CYT San Antonio

CYT San Diego

CYT Santa Cruz

CYT Spokane

CYT Tri-Valley

CYT Tucson

CYT Upstate

CYT Waco

CYT Wichita

If you’re curious about what CYT is and why we Act, Sing, Dance, & Live all the year through, check out our website or like us on Facebook.

We promise, we like you, too.

Q&A with CYT Spokane’s Scott Worley

In continuing my obsession with interviewing CYTers around the nation, I recently spoke with CYT Spokane student Scott Worley. And in continuing my being so impressed with the caliber of people involved in CYT, Scott did not disappoint. Spokane is a lucky CYT Affiliate, indeed!

Ladies & gents, meet Scott Worley

Ladies & gents, meet Scott Worley

Let’s do a little get-to-know-you. Tell me your name, age, current location, and an interesting tidbit or two that we’d be surprised to learn.

My name is Scott Worley, I’m 19 years old, and I live in Spokane, Washington (I’ve lived here my entire life). Interesting tidbits…I have grown a beard, shaved my head, and been painted green for several CYT shows. And for Christmas the past four or five years, I’ve asked for a pair of red converse high tops. They usually last me a little over a year and so I get the perfect time span out of them and I wear them with everything no matter what I’m wearing.

An example of Scott being green...

An example of Scott being green…

I love it! Tell me your experience as a student at CYT Spokane. How long were you involved, and what were some highlights?

I’ve been involved with CYT Spokane sense the age of 11. I was in the cast of 10 shows and on crew for four shows. Some of the highlights have been meeting amazing people who I truly believe will be my friends for life. There also isn’t a whole lot that can compare to the feeling of singing your heart out to a sold out theater of 750 people at the breathtaking Bing Crosby Theater.

Friends

Any favorite roles or shows?

Some roles I’ve had the honor to play were the Beast and Shrek. But my all-time favorite roll was Jud Fry in Oklahoma!. The stretch as an actor I was able to experience was amazing! My favorite show, however, would probably be A Christmas Carol. We had a bit of a smaller cast for that one so everyone was playing several roles and we just had a blast doing such a exciting and fun show.

Not looking so scary as the Beast...

Not looking so scary as the Beast…

What was your go-to audition song?

“I’d Rather Be Sailing” from A New Brain. I was fortunate enough to be able to perform it for the I.E. Thespian Festival and qualify nationally for Solo’s.

I’m told you recently interned for a production of Peter Pan. How was that? What were some of your responsibilities?

That was an absolute blast! Some of what I did was block scenes, as well as fight choreography and assisted with character work and development.

What was the main part of that experience that you didn’t see coming? 

I really didn’t realize how big of an undertaking the whole process really is. As a director you are responsible for everything from the the casting of the show to the set design. I learned you need a solid vision as a director because while you do have a team of dedicated and amazing parent volunteers, they are all going off your vision for the show.

And the second thing that really caught me off guard was the thing you are constantly told when in CYT but never fully grasp until you see the full picture –  how much the parent volunteers really do for a show and for us all. A show would crumble if it was not for the parents giving their time, energy, resources, and GAS for these productions. So to all CYT parents everywhere, thank you for everything you do. You are really changing lives with the work and time you are putting into your CYT.

You attended the 2014 CYT EXPO. Best three days of your life?

I did attend this year, as well as the one before and they were both awesome! Not only did I get an original CYT tie out of it from the good Dr. LaForge herself but met a lot of amazing CYTers and had a blast! It seems like another one of those sayings you always seem to hear but it is oh so true – a CYT’er is a CYT’er no matter where they are from.

Modeling the CYT tie!

Modeling the CYT tie!

What are you currently up to and what is your future looking like?

Right now I am in my first year of college and am involved with community theater around Spokane, as well as teaching Drama 101 this winter semester at CYT. Down the road I am working towards getting a degree in Secondary Education to become a high school Social Studies teacher and will hopefully direct a CYT show of my own some day!

So awesome! Thanks for humoring me and all my questions. Best of luck Scott!