Summer Camps: Jungle Jams returns to Tarkington


By Mark Ambrogi

Lisa Colleen’s Jungle Jams will be making an encore summer camp performance at the Tarkington.

From left, Elizabeth “Emie” Comer gets violin instruction from Bongo Boy Music School helper Mae Ban. (Submitted photo)

“It’s a lot of percussion. We call it moving and grooving,” Colleen said. “We do a lot of free movement, and there is dancing with scarves. Then we bring in percussion instruments. Last year we introduced them to mandolin, the violin and the guitar. It depends who my helpers are and what instruments we bring in.”

For the second consecutive year, the Center for the Performing Arts will hold Jungle Jams as a summer camp June 12 through 16 at the Tarkington in Carmel. Colleen said the target age range is 4 to 6 years old for the camp, which will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

“Every day they learn about a life skill, and the animals each represent that life skill,” Colleen said.

So one day she might tell the kids a story about a zebra named Zeke.

“He represents that it’s cool to be unique,” Colleen said. “So all the zebras look the same but their stripes are all different, just like our thumbprints are all different. Every day I make sure they learn something either about teamwork or celebrating differences or celebrating your uniqueness.”

Julia Shildmyer-Heighway, the center’s community engagement manager, said Jungle Jams was first a one-day class series. Impressed by the class, Shildmyer-Heighway invited Colleen to make it a camp.

“Each day there is a story and craft activity, and they make an instrument to take home,” Shildmyer-Heighway said. “There are games and music. It’s a very active camp.”

Colleen, a former Camel resident who now lives in Geist, said she has run Jungle Jams at different places for six years.

Colleen works with Bongo Boy Music School, which supplies the music and instruments.

“A lot of my songs are original,” Colleen said. “The music studio writes the music for me.”

Shildmyer-Heighway said the camp was very well-received last year.

“It was filled to capacity, and we have kids that have signed up last year that are coming back,” she said.

There is a maximum of 20 participants. For more, visit

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