It was the ideal of summer camp that provided the inspiration for Kate McCarthy.

While looking for a way to offer the carefree summer days she experienced as a kid going to summer camp, filled with group songs, games and self-expression, the 23-year-old former Coastsider launched Kate’s Kamp. McCarthy offers kids, ages 6 to 12, her knowledge, passion and experience working in comedy and theater. The camp gives kids an opportunity to unleash creative energy online, with sessions targeting improv games, joke workshops, group writing and storytelling projects.

“I really was trying to think of what to offer for parents who may be stressing that there are none of these options,” said McCarthy, who is currently based in San Diego. “A lot of the games you can play for creativity do translate pretty well over Zoom.”

McCarthy attended Hatch Elementary School and lived in Half Moon Bay until she was 10 years old. She wasn’t much into performing arts as a kid but played various sports. As the oldest of three siblings, she knew how to get creative and make the most of their free time.

When she lived in San Francisco, she began to get interested in comedy. By the time she got to college, she had an eye for the stage. The freedom of self-expression and the opportunity to process feedback in real time were big draws.

“I found that allure of comedy to be such a mainstay,” she said. “As a means of self-expression, comedy made the most sense to me.”

Though McCarthy has no formal training in education, she has no shortage of experience working with kids. Previous endeavors include Project Commotion in high school, a nonprofit serving kids with special needs through the use of tumbling, music and martial arts, and Story Pirates, a nationally renowned performing arts show based in New York.

“Working with kids in a summer camp, it’s a marathon,” she said. “You have to get creative. You have to flip on a dime and be able to tailor yourself to an individual kid’s needs.

During her four years at the University of Minnesota, McCarthy got involved with the theater and comedy scene. She co-founded a comedy magazine while pursuing a mix of stand-up improv around town.

She spent her summers in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York interning at television shows and comedy troupes, including “Conan,” “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” “Saturday Night Live,” and The Second City.

McCarthy was working in New York a few months ago when cases of the coronavirus pandemic began appearing. She lost her job and moved across the country. Hearing her talk about how theater and comedy can translate to fun activities for kids, it’s clear

McCarthy has given her program a lot of thought. The two-hour sessions for five days are not geared for intensive production. It’s meant to be fun.

“In recent years, I haven’t been able to shake working with kids,” she said. “It keeps finding a way back to me. I think that’s because theater and comedy are such a natural door for kids to empower and express themselves.”

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