Global group sings, dances and forms bonds in heartland

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August 23rd, 2011

By Felicia Mesadieu

Omaha, NE – Children and teens traveled from all over the country and the world to the heartland this summer to sing, dance, perform and form life-long bonds of friendship.

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The Young Americans came to Fremont, NE for a two-week workshop this summer. (Photo credit The Young Americans)

The excitement and energy of a very diverse group of entertainers: black, white, Canadian, Japanese teens and junior high school students, filled the room at the Young Americans workshop earlier this summer. Many traveled across the nation to the heartland to create new friendships and experiences by sharing their love for music and dance through performance. (Click Listen Now to hear The Young Americans perform)

Dancer Katja Patry, 16, flew in all the way from Germany to attend the workshop. “I’ve taken many workshops in Germany,” Patry said, “I went last year, and The Young Americans just give me so much energy and love, and it’s just so fun to be with them.”

Children and teens from around the world come together for The Young Americans workshops. (Photo credit The Young Americans)

The Young Americans is an internationally acclaimed performance group that hosts workshops around the world, and has partnered with Midland University in Fremont to create a two week workshop for aspiring artists and entertainers. This year was the second of the workshop in the heartland, and it’s become a familiar name among many Nebraskans. Associate Producer, T.J. Stoltz said, “I like the fact that it’s kind of secluded in a smaller town, cozy, makes the camp atmosphere a little better.”

The camp is funded through camper’s registration and donations. Stoltz said over 60% of the campers have returned to the camp from the first year, with over 200 campers participating in the workshop this summer.

“Our hope overall is for them to experience what we love about the outreach tour that we do,” Stotlz said, “which is an atmosphere of no competitiveness. Doing what you want to do in the art area or entertainment area, and not feel like you’re being judged, not feel like you’re having to compete for a solo necessarily.” (Click Listen Now to hear The Young Americans perform)

“That’s our tool,” Stoltz said, “and then past that, we really just want them to learn about themselves.”
In addition to promoting a non competitive hobby, The Young Americans utilizes its camp activities to integrate different cultures and ages and foster new friendships.

“The Young Americans themselves, the cast, is made up of all walks of life,” Stoltz said. “Everywhere we go, we have students that are interested, or get curious in us and want to audition. So we have people from Japan, we have people from New Zealand, we have people from Germany, we have people from all over the United States that come together and make this cast.”

“So now students are able to see all these different walks of life together as a unit, as a team, as a cast.”

California native, Caitlin Oden, 20, said she has learned a valuable message from the camp. “At first you might not know anyone,” Oden said, “But and then you become so close, you just become like one, and you just have friends from all over the world.”

More information on The Young Americans can be found here.

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