EDMONTON -- While many in-person camps for kids are not running this year, the Citadel Theatre is still staging its summer camp.

The Foote Theatre School for young people is teaching kids between the ages of six and 18 acting, singing and dancing, all at a safe distance this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We looked into the restrictions and the guidelines and we thought we could meet those and still be able to off safe programming,” says Doug Mertz, the theatre’s director of education and outreach.

In order to meet the guidelines, the school has limited the number of students per class and have them spread across the stage and even into the aisle and seats. The groups also stay in their own acting bubbles.

“It’s called a cohort so they stick to their group, they have their own space, they don’t mix, they have their own entrance and exit from the building,” says Mertz.

The cohorts spent the week working on a production.

“It’s very fun,” says 13-year-old Bridget Gutteridge-Hingston. “We’ve learned two songs already and a choreography routine.”

In the past, the student’s performance would be held in one of the theatres, but things are different this year.

“We are just doing them in the classroom and filming them so then we can share the link with parents,” says Mertz.

Mertz says it was important to the Citadel to continue with their summer camps. The Foote Theatre School was started in 1966 and is the oldest and largest of its kind in the city. It not only helps train actors who sometimes go on to appear in professional productions on stage, it also gives young people an appreciation for theatre.

“We’re building future audiences in addition to the performers because we obviously need a lot more audience members than we have on stage so we’re trying to create that love of theatre,” Mertz says.

And Gutteridge-Hingston, who aspires to be an actor, loves that she still gets to a week of training in musical theatre, even though most of it has to be done at a distance.

“It still works and it’s still better than doing nothing, it’s still super fun to come to camp everyday.”

The Foote Theatre school camps are on until Aug. 14.