Up With People inspires the Freedman Family

The Up With People tradition continues to dance vibrantly in the Freedman family.

Marc Freedman traveled with the show back in 1986. If you recall Super Bowl XX, when the Chicago Bears mauled the Patriots 46-10 at the Louisiana Superdome, he was the young man playing the keyboard on the 50-yard line during the halftime show. He wore a yellow sweat shirt.

Freedman’s daughter Mindy, 16, about to start her junior year at North Andover High School, recently attended Camp Up With People in Harrisonburg, Va. She’s not quite old enough to take part in the full-fledged show that travels the world promoting peace and service to others, but she hopes her chance will come after graduating from high school.

Mindy described Up with People, started in 1965, as “an international performance group that focuses on community impact and leadership.” The organization’s goal, she said, is “bringing the world together.” Marc Freedman said he watched an Up with People performance in Haverhill at the suggestion of a music teacher at Peabody High School.

“I loved the show,” he said, and decided he wanted to be a part of it. He was among 10,000 applicants for 600 spots and was selected, he said. While the Up with People performance is well-known for its energetic choreography, Freedman didn’t dance.

He contributed his talent at the keyboard. His daughter, however, who has been dancing for 14 of her 16 years . She’s a student at North Andover School of Dance and will most likely offer her stepping skills to the cause.

While the Up with People show gets most of the attention, that’s only a part of the commitment, Freedman said. When the cast visits a particular area, the members stay with host families and perform community service.

Last week, when Up with People visited Lowell, the cast painted a mural. Someone sprayed graffiti on it, so the cast went right back and painted over it, Freedman said.

“It was a great lesson,” he said, because the incident reminded the young people that for all of their positive energy – that’s what they’re all about, after all – there are still others in the world who don’t share their optimistic, hopeful outlook.

While one must be between the ages of 17 and 28 to participate in Up with People, 14- to 17-year-olders can attend Camp Up with People. The camp produces a “smaller-type show,” Mindy explained.

“I like the way everybody comes together,” she said. “We all respect each other.”

During her time at the camp, Mindy sang, danced, dined and had fun with young people from Japan, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, South Africa and the Ivory Coast. Many of her fellow campers were learning English, so she had to speak slowly and especially clearly, she said.

Mindy studies German at North Andover High, but her ability in that language didn’t come in handy, she said. At any rate, she made many friends and “it was really hard to say goodbye to everybody,” she said.

She connected very well with a girl from New Hampshire, whom she has already visited. Her new friend will soon return the favor, she said. As for the other friends from all over the world, they keep in touch through Skype.

Freedman and his wife Laura have five children, of whom Mindy is the oldest. The others are Ilana, 14; Jerry, 12; Noah, 10; and Corey, 9. All of the Freedman children take dancing lessons and play sports, their father said.

He predicted that all of them will take part in Up with People. While the show was performing in Lowell, the Freedmans hosted two cast members from Belgium and one from Arizona.

Their guests made a positive impression on the younger Freedmans, he said.

The current show, called “Voices,” is new, Freedman said. It is performed like a Broadway production and features a cast of 100, from 20 different countries.

Up with People has been performing and serving on Cape Cod this week. From Monday until Sept. 3, they’ll be in Newburyport. The show will take place Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. at Rupert Nock Middle School.

The following week they’ll visit Hamilton and Wenham; then they’ll head for Concord and Plymouth.

The group will begin its overseas tour Sept. 24, when they are scheduled to fly to Taiwan.

After tours in the Philippines and Mexico, the cast will sign off in December. While the Up with People show has changed with the times, the theme song is the same as it was in 1965, according to Freedman, beginning with, “Up, up with people, you meet them wherever you go.”

By Paul Tennant

Cast B Camper, Arden, Shares Her Story

Have you ever felt pushed out of your comfort zone?

That twist in your stomach when you walk into the lunchroom and don’t know who to sit next to? Or the same twist when you suddenly find yourself suspended hundreds of feet from the ground? Welcome to Camp Up with People! Camp Up with People is a wonderful performing arts camp dedicated to making the world a better place while enjoying the art of performing. The biggest goal in this camp, besides coming up with a beautiful performance in three weeks, is pushing you out of your comfort zone. “That sounds terrifying!” was the first thought that entered my head as one of the camp counselors explained a helpful diagram.

The diagram consists of three circles one inside the other. You start with the tiny circle which represents your comfort zone, then the next circle which represents your challenge zone, and finally the last circle which represents your panic zone. The panic zone is the place where you break down. The tears start flowing and the fight or flight instinct kicks in. It’s explained that a big part of this camp is about making your comfort zone expand. It’s a terrifying thought, but from day one that’s exactly what happens. Not as drastic but simple things as sharing a room with four girls and a bathroom with eight. Even making new friends can be a push into the challenge zone. The thought is scary but in the end it’s worth it.

When I first signed up for Camp Up with People I was nervous to go. I would be meeting people from across the world! What if I didn’t make friends? Or didn’t like the people I was rooming with? These thoughts changed the second I got off the bus and a group of the campers who had arrived earlier were there making a tunnel with their hands that we walked under. Friends were instant. Over the first week I was pushed into my challenge zone and neared my panic zone at the thought of singing in front of others. The counselors understood my terror and quickly arranged so that I could always sing with the group instead of alone in front of a large crowd. The challenging part came a little later when we went on a trip to the Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center.

The Via Ferrata is a terrifying idea for anyone scared of heights; unfortunately I fit into the category. I was determined to climb it even though my knees were going weak and I felt like I was going to throw up. The two counselors in my group were extremely supportive putting me climbing in the middle of them so that I would feel better. So we started the climb. I did my best not to look down and at resting points along the trail while we waited for people to catch up or to finish climbing a difficult area the counselors would talk to me and tell me about how they were a little nervous or how beautiful the view was. It was calming. The climb continued.

We moved higher and higher up the rock. At one point you turn a corner and it’s an immediate drop off. I froze. “There is no way I was going to make it,” was the thought sounding over and over again in my head. Until one of the counselors decided to yodel into the echo sending a smile to my face and suddenly I could move again hurriedly climbing the remaining part to firm ground. I made it to the very top of the Via Ferrata even climbing the hardest part that was optional. It was a wonderful achievement! The campers I was climbing with could not stop telling me how proud they were of me and how I was amazing to be able to climb all the way to the top!

That was only one of the many stories I was able to experience well at Camp Up with People Cast B 2012. No one believes that you can make such great friends in the short time of three weeks but every cast that you meet will tell you, you most definitely can. You grow so close to your cast and in the end there is no doubt in everyone’s mind that you will be friends for life. At the end of the camp, during the closing circle the most common thing said is, “I love you guys.” Every single person in that circle can agree. The inside jokes and the love continues on Facebook with constant posts to each other’s walls or in the Camp Up with People Cast group made especially for your cast. It seems shocking that at the end of three weeks we can say “I love you.” and mean it to people who were complete strangers at the beginning but that’s the bond Camp Up with People gives you.

In closing I would like to share what my younger brother said as he and my family surprised me at camp to come watch the beautiful performance at the end. While meeting all of my friends and cast he came up to me and said, “Wow, everyone here is so nice!” It’s 100% true.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and I hope that it tells you the wonderful life changing experience Camp Up with People gives you.

-Arden Gehl

CUWP Summer Staff – Tyler

Meet Tyler! He will be on Camp Up with People’s staff this summer. Tyler is 20 years old and from New Mexico. He has just gotten off the road with Up with People, Cast A 2012. He loves to play music, but even more….he loves to teach it! He has been the piano player in the UWP Band and is most excited about seeing campers walk away empowered by something that is beautiful and good.

CUWP Summer Staff – Drew

Hey everyone! I’m Drew and I’m from Maryland, USA. I’m 22 years old and I’ve been dancing for most of my life. I am one of your dance captains & counselors at Camp Up with People. I can’t wait to meet you guys! I have lots of hobbies like video editing and working on cars. I traveled with Up with People in Cast A 2011 and Cast B 2011.

CUWP Summer Staff – Amy

Amy is a 20 year old college student from eastern Virginia, just two hours from Camp Up with People in Harrisonburg, VA! Amy brings experience from a year of traveling with Up with People, work as a summer camp counselor, involvement with numerous performing groups, and a personal passion for music to her role as Music Coordinator and Counselor this summer. In addition, she’ll be participating in the UWP Special Rio 2012 Cast tour in Brazil just before arriving at camp! She is so excited to join the Camp UWP Staff and make new memories with this diverse and amazing group of young people!

CUWP Summer Staff – Samantha

Hello, my name is Samantha and I am from New Mexico, USA. I sing, dance, and act and love to live to life to the fullest every day! I love to laugh and make an adventure out of any circumstance. This is my second year with Camp Up with People and I am super excited to go back and have a whole new experience. I can’t wait to see all our previous campers, new campers, previous staff and new staff! I will be working on the production team as the sound engineer/technician as well as a counselor. I am looking forward to my return to camp and am counting down the days!

CUWP Summer Staff – Sydnee

Join us in welcoming Sydnee to the Camp UWP summer staff! Sydnee is from Denver, CO and travelled with Up with People Cast B ’10 & Cast A ’11. She loves to sing, snowboard, ride her bike, go camping, travel and read. She is excited to be the Marketing Coordinator and Counselor at Camp UWP and wants to help make the experience incredible for all of the awesome campers!!

CUWP Summer Staff – Emilio

Emilio is a freshman at the University of Arizona and is so excited to be the Education Coordinator and a Counselor for Camp Up with People. After traveling on the road for one year with Up with People, he is ecstatic to return to the USA and share what he has learned with this young and motivated group of campers this summer. His hobbies include drawing, acting and pie making. Join us in welcoming Emilio to the Camp UWP Summer 2012 Staff!

CUWP Speakers at European Alumni Meeting

Mikael and his son Calle and Therese and her son Max spoke at the Up with People European Alumni Meeting (EAM) in Stockholm recently about Camp Up with People. Therese, an UWP alumna, and Mikael spoke about the positive influence the camp had on their children, while Max and Calle spoke about what a great experience camp was for them. In fact, they enjoyed it so much they are coming back this summer!