By Martie Thompson

Camp Fixel, the Bat Mitzvah project of Mandarin resident Abigail Fixel, was held over two weeks in June at Brentwood Elementary School and culminated with a production of “Princess Whatsername” on June 24. The project introduced musical theater to students aged five – 13 in Jacksonville’s urban core who were from all walks of life.

“It was stressful and exhausting, but rewarding,” said Fixel, a rising eighth grader at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School.

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Fixel had the idea to put on the camp because of her own interest in musical theater and because she wanted to share it with other kids. She said she believes that students who participate in musical theater are more confident and do better in school. So she started a GoFundMe account and solicited donations of snacks and lunches from area restaurants and businesses.

Her mother, Rebecca Fixel, coordinated the many adult volunteers needed to supervise the camp while Abigail Fixel ran the camp — including directing, blocking and teaching the songs as well as making the sets.

After the first week, Abigail Fixel said she wasn’t sure they would actually have a play to perform at the end, but everything kind of gelled with the young performers during the second week of camp. A successful production was indeed held to conclude the camp and many of the adult volunteers even returned for the performance.

“I think the repetition during the second week as well as the kids practicing at home made the difference,” Abigail Fixel said. “I was surprised at how well the kids ultimately memorized everything. We have a lot of talented kids!”

Fixel said her favorite part was getting to know the students and to this day she still interacts and talks with some of them. She is pleased to have instilled a love of musical theater in the campers.

Fixel is considering offering an after school program one day a week to keep the momentum going.

Photo courtesy Rebecca Fixel

Abigail Fixel and the cast of “Princess Whatsername.”

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