About to launch its first season, there’s nothing like All Summer Long in either mainstream or Christian television today. Written and produced for teens and family viewers, this reality TV show has broken new ground. When I recently spoke with Ed Portillo, Co-Creator/Producer of All Summer Long – a show containing content that models no other – I couldn’t resist exploring the plans, motives, and mission behind such an original idea.
I dove straight into the why question. Hello Ed – what sort of needs does your teen camp, sketch comedy road trip, reality show, All Summer Long, intend to address? Ed surprised me. “I’ve never seen a TV show that captures the spiritual maturity of someone’s life and soul. Because I’ve experienced the leadership of this [sketch comedy] team, I’ve seen the results from the front lines… it’s servant leadership.” Ed’s response got my attention in several ways. For one, I was about to learn more about his personal DNA in this much-needed teen mentoring, summer camp experience.
Also, I have never seen a reality show that integrates tough challenges, fun, and humor into the spiritual maturation process of its young participants. And, having written for television myself, I have faced the demands of striking the balance between clean, amusing levity with deeper, more sobering content. All Summer Long (ASL) is positioned to bring something uniquely soulful and entertaining to its teen and family audiences. I found that entirely refreshing and intriguing.
Co-creators, Ed Portillo and Michael Portillo, plan to produce ASL with a clear vision to reinvigorate the Christian teen summer camp experience and touch non-Christian teens as well. “I thought it would have some reach even outside of the Christian [demographic] realm. This is a show that is accessible for all people, kids, and parents. It’s aesthetically pleasing for the appetite of the younger generation.”
Ed has written his share of sketch comedy and has often played the role of a servant leader (one who is providing both spiritual mentoring and thoughtfully planned comedic entertainment) at teen camp. He is currently developing a curriculum with Bible studies, videos and a DVD teaching series on Creative Arts Media 101.
Unbeknownst to Ed, the Lord had been grooming him for his ASL producer role from his boyhood. He got his creative start at the Mosaic Church where Ed viewed Pastor Erwin McManus as an awesome communicator who always included the creative arts. McManus developed actors, directors, and performing arts talent from within his flock. From the age of 10 and up, Ed was always performing in front of an audience at church. He was validated as a creative person who is passionate about his relationship with Jesus Christ. Growing up in a church where both were being nurtured provided the foundation for his career trajectory.
Ed was enjoying his own performing arts ministry at Mosaic Church so much, he didn’t feel the need to act in his high school plays. He finally did try out in his senior year and participated in two school plays. He also started The Improv Club and shows in his senior year and gained a bit of recognition in his high school yearbook.
From there, God hoisted him to the next level. He found a program at Vanguard University that trained students in sketch comedy and dispatched them to teen summer camps to employ their new skills. Getting into the program was no easy trick. He had to apply, get two pastors to endorse him, interview, and perform at an improv night. He made the cut.
For Ed, this experience marked the point of no return. His initial motivation was just to make people laugh. Even throughout the training process, he still didn’t get what was in store. But once he got to camp, he found himself immersed in being present with the teens – no cell phones, no distractions – it was all about ministering to and serving them. By the end of that life altering summer camp mentoring experience, all he could say was Jesus use me.
At Vanguard, Ed also founded The Delivery Boys & Entourage, a troupe of four guys and four girls. “It was so awesome to get paid to go to camp and do this [work],” Ed shared with fervor.
“The ultimate validation for a young person is to be in college and get paid to bring his creative arts ministry experience.”
After Ed graduated from college, his brother gave him the idea of telling his story about the The Deliver Boys & Entourage. Shortly after, All Summer Long found its place in his heart. Considering his background, how could it not? Ed told me that pursuing it is the fruit of a communal level and tenacity, 100% dependence on God all the time, and a great foundation of friends especially from his church. “You must turn your little victories into big victories to move you forward because the competition is so great out there.” Having people encourage Ed has propelled him to continue his labor of love. He would be thrilled if ASL prompts churches to create servant leadership teams for their flocks and teen camps and he is preparing to help them with All Summer Long and support materials.
Through ASL, he aspires to make a significant impact in teens’ camp participation across the country, increase the demand, be a beacon for people who haven’t experienced it, and get kids to invite their friends.
Want more information? Learn more about how you can get involved in the making of future episodes of ASL, a well produced, far reaching reality television show.
For additional encouragement SCH recommends the inspiring ~ How a Week in the Outdoors Can Benefit Kids