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Verdun Adventure Bound to add amphitheatre

Verdun Adventure Bound is setting the stage for fine arts and live, summer entertainment.

The children's education camp, located near Rixeyville, will raise an outdoor amphitheater around an existing stage on their 80-acre campus.
Dr. David Snyder, camp director and founder, hopes the stage will be up and ready by April. Once complete, he hopes it will serve not only as an addition to the camp's outdoor education programs, but also as a venue and resource for performers in the area.

"Fine arts is the pinnacle of education," Snyder said. "It educates the spirit."

David Norden, of Hinckley, Shepherd, Norden Architects – and Snyder's son-in-law – designed the amphitheater. When complete, it will encompass a 36-foot-wide stage, a 15-year-old Eagle Scout project, already present on VAB's campus.

Snyder calls it the "Mini Wolftrap," a reference to the Wolf Trap outdoor amphitheater in Vienna, Va.

Norden's design sports a choir loft, his and hers dressing rooms, and swiveling wood panels in place of side curtains.

"It's designed to be able to project sound," Norden said. "It will be a great venue for musical performances and acting."
Snyder, a fan of bluegrass music, has been courting bluegrass artists to make use of the Mini Wolftrap. It's become popular in the region, he said, especially with the National Old Fiddler's Convention in Galax, Va.

When the amphitheater is done and ready, Snyder hopes to have live musical entertainment every Friday night in May and the first Friday in June.
Michael Timm, the camp's director of theater arts, wants to start a theater camp to run alongside VAB's challenge camp.

Timm, a man with 35 years of teaching theater in Fairfax under his belt, said he's tried starting a few drama camps in the area, only to be stymied by red tape and hidden expenses.

"To have Doc's venue as a starting position is huge," Timm said.

Timm sees the Mini Wolftrap as a venue for students from Fauquier, Culpeper and Rappahannock Counties to perform, a sort of "neutral ground" for the area's drama communities to meet and compare notes.

And while those students perform music, plays or improv theater, they can take advantage of the challenge courses on VAB's campus to build teamwork skills, Timm said.

All told, the amphitheater will cost VAB between $145,000 and $150,000. That money comes from fund-raising efforts, the camp's capital improvement budget, and local grant money, Snyder said.

That money won't take the Mini Wolftrap all the way to completion, Timm said.

"We have wiring for sound and wiring for lights, but no sound and no lights," Timm said.

The amphitheater will also lack indoor plumbing for bathrooms, at least until VAB can find money for a septic system, Timm said.
There are no seats, either. The Mini Wolftrap projects out to a hillside, Timm said. VAB wants to see whether or not people prefer to sit on the hill, stand, or bring their own chairs before looking for money for seating, Timm said.

The stage has a ways to go before it's finished, but the fine arts community has already shown enthusiasm for the new venue, Timm said.
"We're hearing all the time from people, 'I've been out to Verdun. I went there as a kid and I'd love to expand that program,'" he said.
Email this reporter: mgrandstaff@timespapers.com.
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