Didi Gomez, who comes to New York City all the way from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a member of the team at Camp Broadway. The Drama Desk Award Winning Company has toured the United States for the last 20 summers, visiting 14 different cities for 5 weekdays. At the end of the week, all 100 kids in the program from ages 10 to 17 hold a performance to display their hard work.

The team of individuals who share their wisdom with these amazing children and teenagers are brought in from New York City. Most members have or have had experience on Broadway, whether it is as a performer, choreographer, or music director. Miss Gomez is a Featured Player, which means she is teaching the kids while assisting the rest of the team to pull together an amazing performance. In addition, she is playing Elle Woods in their final production, Legally Blonde. Along with 3 additional Featured Players, Didi works daily with all 4 groups of kids to help enhance their skills.

I spoke with Didi when she finished up her last performance on Friday, July 29th, 2016 at Shea’s Theatre, and it was amazing to hear about the wonderful experience she had so far away from home:

“I never thought I would end up teaching kids of all ages in my downtime, but life is wise, and as I always say: Everything happens for a reason. Teaching is the most rewarding job you can get.Watching those faces, hungry for knowledge, ready to learn, ready to experience new things… it’s priceless. It’s not always easy, and a lot of pressure for sure, because you know that whatever you say to them, it will stick in their minds. Giving a positive message always is really important when teaching, so they don’t feel as their doing anything ‘wrong’, but just going through the process of learning.” 

As a fellow educator myself, I think that Miss Gomez’s words are incredibly wise. Kids need a positive message in order to continue to grow and become who they aspire to be, and teaching is the most rewarding job in the world because we are able to do just that each and every day.

When I asked Didi to reflect on the program itself, she walked me through each day of the week that she got to spend with each group of kids:

“When the week starts at Camp Broadway, kids are usually super shy. My favorite part of day one is… the ‘chorus call’, where they have to sing a little bit of a song to show us their voices and personalities. There are some kids who are dying to sing out loud and show us what their talent is, but there are [other] kids who get so nervous and they ask not to sing at all. But, by the end of the class, and after watching their own friends do it, they build their confidence and are ready to sing loud and proud! Just to watch that, it makes my day! It amazes me to watch how most of them have come out of their shells, and are being 150% themselves because they feel [they are in] a safe environment, which what we try to [create for] these kids.

‘By the second and third day, the rest of them start to show their personalities. Their frustrations start to show as well, but they never give up. As they are learning so much choreography, music and lines, they stay positive, and help each other. They learn how to work as an ensemble, which is the point of this camp. 

‘Friday, the last day, kids are going through so many emotions: happy and excited to have their performance, but also sad that it’s the last day, and they are getting separated from their ‘best friends’ who they made in just a few days. The show is always full of energy, and it usually surprises us how good they turn up to be, since kids are giving it all on that stage. 

‘For me, Friday’s are also my hardest days. Not only because we’re exhausted, but because we get to share so much with these kids [and] it’s hard to leave them. This year was my third with Camp Broadway, and coming back to the same cities, seeing the returnees, but grown up and getting better every year, makes my heart smile.’

Didi plans to work at Camp Broadway again next year and is incredibly sad to leave this summer, but she says she is coming back with “a different energy, knowing that [she’s] imparted wisdom to at least 400 kids, who hopefully feel more confident in their craft, and in themselves.”

It was an honor to speak with Didi and learn about her amazing experience at Camp Broadway. The 400 kids that will be enrolling in 2017 are lucky to work with such a talented and amazing woman!

All information regarding Camp Broadway was given to me by Didi Gomez herself, and from Allison Berowski’s blog BlankBeauti. My article can also be found on SnapFreeLife.