Summer Camps

2020 Summer Camps

Registration for Villa Maria’s 2020 Summer Camps is now open! All camps will be held virtually via Zoom this year, but maintain the same level of educational fun as always. This year, the College is hosting virtual camps for high school students interested in drumming, supernatural, suspense and fantasy fiction, cinema, and more.

July 13-16, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

An introduction to basic hand/mind coordination using various percussion instruments from various cultures. Students will use pitched percussion instruments as enhancements for rhythm while understanding the basics of CLAVE, the rhythmic “key” of many musics.  Students will also learn to use meditational-style percussion instruments to tap into intuitive rhythms. In addition, basic DRUM SET grooves and beats will be performed/discussed using a traditional drum “kit” set-up of a snare drum, bass drum and a cymbal – including rock, jazz, and Latin styles.

All of the rhythms studied in the workshop can be played on and adapted to ANY basic hand-type drum (bongo, conga, etc.), a snare drum or drum set (including electronic drums), or just a simple practice drum pad with drumsticks.  ALL skill levels, beginner to advanced are welcomed to participate.  The online ‘Zoom’ video meetings platform will be used for all interactive group and individual lesson instruction.

Areas covered: Latin ‘clave’ beats, world beats/rhythms, meditational rhythms, basic polymeters, drumset/snare drum/basic snare drum rudiments, hand drumming basics, and improvisation on various instruments.

Instructor: Gary Rutkowski, adjunct faculty  

Gary Rutkowski has studied classical and contemporary percussion techniques for the past 25 years.  He has performed with traditional and nontraditional percussion groups, taught at Villa Maria College, Buffalo State College and Edinboro University. His performances with new age musicians include Patrick Bernard and Maelstrom from the University at Buffalo Percussion Ensemble.  He is the performer and producer of four original sound recordings and the author of a book on drumming concepts and techniques. He has channeled this wealth of experience and expertise into workshop performance programs for drummers and non-drummers alike.

Supernatural and Suspense Fiction
July 20-23, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Through a series of selected readings, this online camp is meant to invigorate and foster both your reading comprehension and advanced interpretive skills. During our time together, you will read a series of exciting supernatural and suspense stories (and poems) meant to both nourish a life long appreciation of fiction, and to illustrate just how the world of fictional literature is able to illuminate the non-fictional world around you.

Our meetings will be conducted “virtually” using; where besides instruction and group discussion, you will participate in entertaining activities meant to strengthen your future engagement and comprehension of literature. In addition, our live meetings will also be supported by supplemental material that I will record and post for you to view online (using the very user friendly You will exit this weeklong adventure with a curated portfolio highlighting their critical engagement, revelations, and achievement.

Instructor: Kyle Fetter, adjunct faculty

Kyle Fetter is an adjunct instructor at Villa Maria College who regularly teaches courses in fiction, film, and college writing. After completing bachelor’s degrees in Religious Studies and Philosophy from the University of South Florida, he relocated to Buffalo to undertake postgraduate studies in English Literature at the University at Buffalo (MA and PhD (ABD)), where his focus was 19th century British literature.

Fantasy Fiction
July 20-23, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Have you ever wanted to write fantasy, science fiction, horror, paranormal romance, superhero tales -Speculative Fiction? Published author, librarian and Goddard College MFAW Susan Abel-Smith will lead you through the process, from finding your story to getting it ready for publication. Through the completion of online modules, asynchronous lessons and writing prompts, and detailed feedback from your instructor you will devise strange new worlds, fill them with magical characters and get a crystal clear driving story to make the most of them. Modules will include World Building, Outlining your Novel or story, character creation, conflict and tension, effective plotting, and finishing the draft. We will have a brief overview of the history of speculative fiction with examples.
The Speculative Fiction Workshop is designed to supplement the Creative Writing and Literature department’s course offerings.

Materials needed: all readings and exercises will be provided, bring any work in progress you would like feedback on.  You will need a computer with internet connection and ability to use meeting software, Zoom is preferred. You may want to bring a notebook and writing implement to take notes, and a flash drive to save your work. We will be submitting in Microsoft Word during class, with Word for final submissions. MLA format, double spaced with point Times New Roman preferred for final submissions.

New writers: If you are starting from scratch you can follow one of two paths: A new short story of  5,000 words developed, workshopped and clarified with feedback, or the basis for a longer work: A detailed outline to finish your project, plot organizers, character breakdowns and profiles, setting organizer, and a minimum of ten pages of workshopped project.

Instructor: Susan Abel-Smith, Resource Librarian

Author, librarian and writing teacher Susan Abel-Smith, MLS, MFAW has been writing and publishing speculative fiction for more than twenty years, with novels, short stories, novellas and a few film scripts to her credit.

Pocket Cinema
July 27-30, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

In the modern world, anybody can be a filmmaker due to the prevalence of cell phones – and your own backyard is often the perfect setting for a compelling story. In this camp, participants will learn basic cinematic elements such as screenwriting and cinematography and use those skills to write and shoot their own short film. On the last day of the camp, a virtual screening will be held to celebrate.

Camp is structured based on technology access of participants.  Requirements are: any kind of camera (cell phone or webcam will do) and word processing software. Everything you need to make a short film is likely already in your possession. Any willing sibling, pet, or action figure can be the star of your film. The camp will be a blend of video meetings and independent tasks, with frequent check-ins throughout the duration of the day’s class time.

Instructor: Sarah Mann, adjunct faculty

Sarah Mann is currently an adjunct instructor in the Digital Filmmaking Program at Villa Maria College. She received both her BA (Bowling Green State University) and MFA (University at Buffalo) in film production and theory and has been on countless film sets, including student productions and big-budget films that have come through Buffalo in the last few years. She believes that everyone has a story to tell and enjoys working with others to bring it to fruition.

Comedic Writing & Character Development
July 27-30, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Participants will challenge themselves as writers/performers/comedic presenters in creating new and exciting work. Each day will begin with a warm up/check in, and then a review of a significant performance or character study. From there, each participant will be given the floor to discuss and present a character or scene that they have been working on. The workshop will culminate in a shared performance of the new work created.  ZOOM will be used for online communication, and writing can be submitted through email to [email protected]  All levels of experience are welcomed.

Instructor:  Kerrykate Abel, Achieve Program Tutor

Kerrykate Abel is an award-winning actress, playwright, cabaret artist and educator. She has developed and produced artistic programs for Buffalo Public Schools after school programs, Theatre of Youth summer intensives, Irish Classical Theatre and many private companies and agencies as well.  Ms. Abel’s focus on using arts as a community engagement tool as well as a healing modality has afforded her the opportunity to educate hundreds of students from age 5 well into adulthood.  She has performed her cabaret shows nationwide and is an MFA Interdisciplinary Arts graduate with a concentration in performance creation from Goddard College, as well as a Villa Maria Alumna.

Camp Costs


Camps Per HouseholdPrice Per Camp


Contact Lisa Kraska
Phone: 716-896-0700
Email: [email protected]

Register Today

Register for one of our summer camps by filling out this online form.

  • First Student Registering
  • If registering for more than one student, add the school information for additional students by clicking the plus button to add additional rows.
    School NameAgeGradeGraduation Year 
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Your Email (required)


Your Message