What began as a one-time “good deed” for the youth of Bruce Sampson’s hometown is quickly becoming an international mission.
In the summer of 2014, Sampson took a group of internationally experienced actors, singers and dancers from Southern CA and New York to the small paper mill community of Bogalusa Louisiana. The goal was to present a week-long performing arts day-camp and culminating stage show designed to bring joy and hope to the youth and rejuvenate an interest in the arts. Their mission was to “use the arts to reach, inspire and unite young people and communities.” Before they even arrived, word got out about Believe and another Louisiana community requested a camp there as well. Both camps and shows were very successful. Students and adults were already asking about next year’s camps. All of sudden, it seemed that this Believe Summer Camp Experience might not be a “one-hit wonder” after all.
But, that was only the beginning. A Chinese businessman, Mr. Song, that Sampson had been introduced by a mutual friend heard about Believe and decided to fly out to watch it first-hand. He was so moved by the experience that he invited Bruce to China to visit three schools in three different cities. Sampson conducted one-man/one-day versions of the Believe camps at schools in Shanghai, Nanjing and Nanchang.
Almost immediately, Mr. Song requested that Sampson set up a special 2-day Believe workshop in Southern CA for a group of visiting high school students and teachers from China. Bruce assembled a team of instructors and invited a group of local students to come participate as well. “I thought it was a unique opportunity for both cultures to interact and learn together.” The experiment was another big success for Believe.
In June of 2015, Believe Summer Camp Experience returned to Louisiana and added a school in Mississippi to the itinerary. They had originally planned to take the team to China t conduct full week-long camps there but issues with visas forced them to cancel. Mr. Song then set his sights on doing winter Believe camps in China during the Chinese New Year holiday. So, Sampson and a team of 5 instructors from L.A, N.Y. and Chicago flew to China in late January of 2016 where they conducted 6-day Believe camps and shows in Shanghai and Nanchang along with a one-day workshop at a prestigious high school in Shanghai. The reception and reaction were overwhelming.
Sampson and his team are already signing up kids online for the Louisiana and Mississippi Believe summer camps that will take place in June 2016. From there, plans are to take the team to Shanghai and Beijing for camps in July. Those will be followed with another Believe International Workshop in Southern CA in early August.
“Till now, Believe has grown rather organically. But we are starting to realize that this is something much more than any of us ever intended. There is an obvious need out there for what we are doing and how we are doing it, so I’m making it my mission to reach as many kids and communities as possible!” Sampson said. He plans to build a self-contained infrastructure for Believe that can begin to reach more places while attracting more talented and experienced instructors/directors to join them. He also hopes to attract a corporate sponsor or two who recognize the value in their vision and the potential reach.
Anyone interested in learning more or being a part of Believe Performing Arts Experience can visit www.believecamp.com or call 951-371-5239.