MAT Camp celebrates 25 years of success

Nate Baxter taught several vocal classes during MAT Camp, including “The Treblemakers,” which focused on jazz music. (HERALD PHOTO/Hayden Godfrey)

EVANSTON — MAT Camp celebrated its 25th anniversary last month as The Arts Inc. wrapped up this year’s festivities at Davis Middle School. Approximately 250 students attended this year’s event, held July 18-22.

MAT Camp is a week-long workshop for the arts — music, art and theater — made up of a faculty staff of local art teachers and volunteers as well as experts in the field from outside the area. Shasta Hopkin, project manager of 24 years, said, “We offer classes for every age from infant (with things like developmental music classes) all the way through to adults. We have classes in music, theater, dance and in visual arts. We often include classes in culinary arts and technology in arts as well.”

“We want constant motion with everything,” she continued, “so we cycle the teachers around, we cycle the classes around, we might bring in a Broadway star one year, and then the next year we might have a local person come in to teach the same class, but we’ll bring in a famous person to do something else so that people who are artists have a chance to get to learn from these different instructors and experts.”

MAT Camp uses a combination of print and digital outreach focused here in Uinta County and in other target areas around the state and neighboring states to get the word out about the program.

“We reach out into Idaho, Colorado and Utah pretty heavily,” Hopkin said. “We were pretty happy with the turnout this year, so that was great. It was good to see that everybody came back again and had a good time.”

This year was particularly special for the organizers at The Arts Inc.

“This was our 25th anniversary, so that was a victory mark for me and for the program for sure. Like everyone else, we had that moment of panic that set in during the pandemic where we weren’t sure we were even going to be able to continue.” Hopkin said, “To be here and to have made it to 25 years and to know that we are on the track to continue for maybe even another 25 years is great. We had a great group of instructors, a great group of students, participants and parents, and the sponsors were lovely for us this year, so it was a really good year — like a well-oiled machine.”

Hopkin said they don’t ever want lack of money to be the reason someone can’t attend the camp.

“We’ve never turned anyone away for lack of ability to pay,” she said. “Over the course of the last 27 … 28 years, we have always found a way to include everyone regardless of whether they’re able to pay tuition or ticket prices or not.”

Hopkin said often one of the ways they make that promise feasible is to offer students and participants one of their large variety of volunteer jobs they always need help with. She said, “They are able to give us some of their time for their tuition, and then, of course, we are able to give financial aid from our savings and grant funding and we get a little bit of support from the city of Evanston specifically to help make camp affordable for families who may need some help.”

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