"As an artist, you're always trying to make it better and better and better and better," says the 33-year-old playwright and actor from Toronto.
But the plays she performed at Glen Bernard Camp were not so rehearsed. With only two or three weeks to pull them together, camp shows were "fast and frenetic" but also helped Shields fall in love with the art form and learn the determination to get through the tough parts of the process.
"When I was 11, I sent home letters to my mom," she says. "At the end of everything that sounded negative I'd say, 'I'll live.' Like, 'there are holes in my cabin and the bugs keep biting me... but I'll live.' Camp makes for resilient kids."
Starting out as the "theatre kid" at camp, she eventually became head of the theatre program where her tenacity was really tested. Each summer she had to write five plays that cast 100 kids, stage rehearsals, make costumes and sets, and ensure everyone was having fun.
"It fostered both my technique as a play creator because I had to do so much of it, and second of all my passion for it," she says. "Going to camp was one of the pivotal moments for me in figuring out how theatre was completely right for me."
Camp Alumni: Erin Shields from Our Kids Net on Vimeo.