Once a YAG Bag, Always a YAG Bag?


“Give Jean this money and, if there are any bags left, get me one. Do NOT let her refuse the money!” I said that to Mouse this morning before she left for her job at the Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild Summer Theatre Academy, a 2-week day-camp that we have been attending and/or working at absolutely forever.

This is probably somewhere back in my blahg archives but it may bear repeating. When Mouse was in second grade at Haisley School, The Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild (YAG) partnered up with Haisley to stage a 2-week summer day camp with a focus on (what else) theatre arts. After some unsuccessful attempts to recruit “at-risk” kids to attend the camp for free tuition (the school district was paying), teachers at the school who were involved identified some non-at-risk kids that they thought might benefit from it. Mouse was invited to attend. The tuition was free, I had seen the YAG director in action, Haisley School is in our backyard, and Lizard and the GG were heading out to the badlands, etc., for most of that two weeks. To me, it was a no-brainer.

Problem? Mouse didn’t want to have anything to do with the idea. “No, I do *not* want to do that!” So, I bribed her. As the first day of camp approached, I had some qualms. Was I doing the right thing? What if she hates it? Is theatre really a good thing for a shy kid? (I actually thought Mouse was shy in those days and didn’t realize that she ran the universe.) The first day rolled around and we packed her a lunch and I walked her over to the school. When we went in the front door, we were immediately greeted by Sue, the YAG director. I don’t remember the exact words or gestures, but I was shooed out the door by Mouse in very short order. You get out of here, Moom.

I have vague memories of actually cleaning my basement that week and, as far as YAG goes, we never left. There were more theatre camps to follow and eventually both kids started to act in plays. And stage manage. And assistant-direct. I think each kid has at least a 25-plus resume of YAG plays. At some point, I became the administrator of the organization. I loved that job in many ways and the summer academy was just about the most fun of all. By that time, we were at the U of M Student Theatre Arts Complex, in the “shadow” of the Big House, aka, the UM Stadium. It is not an exotic site for a camp but most of the kids in our camp don’t much care. They are there to do theatre and that’s about it.

I quit last fall. Rather abruptly, unlike me. The whole thing was just too much at the moment. I still absolutely positively love all of the people that I worked with. And the kids and the parents (well, most of them ;-)). And, just all of it. Jean and I went for coffee today and she said they were doing ice cream cones this afternoon. Did I want to help? Sure! It was fun. There were three of us. I can’t believe we ever served ice cream cones to 90 kids without three people at the snack table. I’ll go back to visit next week and help with the snow cone machine and who knows what else. I miss that place.

Anyway, this summer, Mouse is working with the esteemed Tina as assistant director of the Shakespeare group (Midsummer’s Night’s Dream), and, when I got over there today, she handed me back my money. Why? Because a YAG bag was already there with my name on it. It was apparently built into the order. Thanks, Jean! You are more than the best! And Sue, you have the best camp in town.

I have a pretty good collection of YAG bags now. Purple, blue, red, green, and now yellow. I guess I just can’t completely leave!

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