Music, Arts and Practicality (MAP) for Dramatic Fun
By Andrea Moreau
Children’s theater is becoming popular along the Gulf Coast. One very special theater camp is “MAP,” which stands for “Music, Arts and Practicality.” All summer long, kids and adult volunteers played hard and worked hard at putting on a show for all at the end of summer break.
MAP camp bustled with fun as campers sang, danced, painted, created, and crafted their way to production day. But more than that, Bonnie Hoeg — a Nationally Board Certified elementary teacher with Gulfport Schools with extensive theater experience and the parent volunteer MAP Director — says children experience many benefits, including engagement in “literacy, math, music, art, dance and problem-solving.”
In addition, the goals of MAP emphasize learning practical life skills such as friendship, reliability, responsibility, sewing, cooking, hygiene and organizational skills throughout the process of putting on a production.
MAP camp is the main attraction of the organization, but MAP is involved in other productions and activities throughout the school year.
MAP was born out of a need for normalcy and culture for children during the rebuilding of Hancock County following Hurricane Katrina. Several retired women formed MAP to bring music and the arts to the children of the devastated community. Two of these women were Betty Patecek, who worked as Public Relations liaison for the Mayor of Waveland at the time, and her sister, Kathy Pinn.
MAP is a 501c3 non-profit organization and provides camp to all children in grades Kindergarten through high school.
“I truly feel MAP has changed the lives of many children,” Patecek said.
MAP is open to all children regardless of ability or disability, and even those children who are not interested in the stage.
Hoeg said MAP “offers children a place where they belong, from the most introverted to the most extroverted…on stage, backstage, in the tech booth, or on the production team, there is a task anyone can do and have an amazing product to show for it.”
Parent volunteers are needed, so interested adults should consider volunteering. Patecek said with approximately 60 children or more who have been involved in recent productions, “It takes many adults to guide and teach that many little people. Along with that, we need the people of the community to share their talents. A small amount of time is a gift that last forever in a child.”
Productions have included Disney’s “Mulan, Jr.,” “The Lion King, Jr.,” “Honk, Jr.,” and “The Little Mermaid, Jr.” This summer, MAP just presented “Shrek, Jr.,” which was staged July 27 and 28 at the Hancock Performing Arts Center.
For more information on how to participate, volunteer, donate or sponsor a child, see the public group page on Facebook, “MAP Kids-Hancock County.” MAP never charges kid to participate. The goal is for it to be open and free to every child.
“Through theater, we teach children that hard work, teamwork, perseverance, and sometimes a little sweat and tears can lead to magic,” Hoeg said. “I find it amazing that kids can take words from a page and create an entire universe that wraps itself around the audience. With a little guidance, a vision, and a lot of hard work, children can do anything!”
Other opportunities for kids with the acting bug:
— Gulfport Little Theater has productions throughout the year and workshops during most school holidays and summer.
— Triple Threat Academy provides camps and show opportunities during the summer and school year.
— Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs has ongoing productions throughout the year.
— Center Stage in Gulfport offers camps and opportunities for kids to perform.
— Biloxi Little Theatre produces a summer teen show.
Andrea Moreau lives in Pass Christian with her husband and three children. She is the author of “I Mustache You to Read with Me,” through Brother Mockingbird Publishers.