BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A group of middle schoolers are spending the next weeks in a “triple threat” summer camp. They’re dancing, acting and singing on the Hippodrome stage.

As Gigi Barnett explains, the camp ends with a grand finale.

If there’s one way to break a child out of his or her shell, the Hippodrome stage is it. The week-long summer camp at the performing arts center highlights dancing, acting and music, turning campers into a “triple threat.”

“Before acting I was shy, and I’m still a little bit shy inside,” said camper Kai McPhee.

But now McPhee says the stage is where he’s most comfortable. Organizers say that’s the goal of Camp Hippodrome.

“It takes a lot of courage to get onto the Hippodrome stage and perform for friends and family,” said Olive Waxter, Hippodrome Foundation Director. “These students are very brave and many of them need to conquer inner fears to be able to do it.”

The Hippodrome Foundation offers the camp for 12 and 13-year-olds. The three, separate, week-long camps are free and there is no audition.  Many camps like this one cost more than $1,000 and don’t offer the Hippodrome stage to practice.

That stage can be nerve-racking to some campers.

“Just knowing that ‘Wicked’ was here, and all of these amazing plays, ‘Annie,’ just being in the same place as all of those people,” said camper Sophie Jacobson.

This week, it’s the students who will fill theater seats. The campers’ first and final public performance at the Hippodrome comes in front of family and friends.

“I think the tears come on Friday at the performances,” said Barb Wirsing, Hippodrome Foundation Education Director. “We all sit there because you see that shy little boy that was afraid coming in the door giving and on Friday he’s up there giving his solo.”

Over the course of the three-week program, over 100 campers will participate in Camp Hippodrome.

More than 200 parents, teachers and friends will be in the Hippodrome Friday at 3 p.m. for the camp’s big finale.

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