‘Camp Quarantine’ Brings Joy to All

Mary Rice Hopkins


Search the internet for “at home” performances, and thousands of results will be provided. There are late night hosts performing their shows from home, families and children putting on mini plays and musical acts, even Saturday Night Live aired its historic “from home” broadcast a few weeks back.
For children sheltering in place, the streaming possibilities are just as endless. And the good news is that some of the content isn’t just for entertainment. For performers like La Cañada’s Mary Rice Hopkins, this is an opportunity to spread joy with a meaningful message.
A singer since childhood, Rice Hopkins realized her love of performance in church.
“My exposure to music was through my parents and my three older brothers who started a band call Brush Arbor – they performed at the Grand Ole’ Opry and sang on the ‘Hee-Haw’ TV show and with Johnny Cash,” she recalled.
In high school she started writing songs and in college she went on to Forest Home Christian Conference Center in San Bernardino to write and perform songs for the camp.
She’s been performing all over the world for over 40 years, from live concerts to “Veggie Tales” to her own show, “Puppets with a Heart,” that aired for 11 years on Trinity Broadcasting Network. That is when she teamed up with Darcie Maze, a puppeteer friend who brought all of the puppets to life.

A puppet from “Camp Quarantine.”

Once the safer-at-home order was announced, Rice Hopkins and Maze started “Camp Quarantine” – a daily online streamed performance. Rice Hopkins plays the guitar and sings with her puppet friends Greengo and Ohno. But, as mentioned previously, Rice Hopkins’ show goes beyond simple entertainment. Each episode has a Scripture theme and features faith-based songs and messages.
“I’ve always been more like Mr. Rogers,” Rice Hopkins explained of her music. “It is faith-based but it’s not ‘preachy.’ It’s reminding kids things like laughter is good medicine for the soul and the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
But “Camp Quarantine” isn’t just for Christian children and their families. Rice Hopkins simply wants positive messages spread.
“That’s how Jesus taught,” she said. “He spoke in parables and truths that resonate with each one of us, whether we are faith-based or not.”
And for now, the show will go on as long as there are safer-at-home orders.
Encouraging emails and excited messages have poured in since the show started on March 19. Last Sunday, they did a Spanish episode for Entre Niños magazine; it had close to 30,000 views from all over South America after just two days. But, of course, Rice Hopkins isn’t in it for the fame.
“I think the biggest blessing of ‘Camp Quarantine’ has been giving shout-outs to many special needs kids who love what we are doing but don’t understand why they can’t see their friends now,” she said. “It gives them hope during this very uncertain time.”
“Camp Quarantine” airs nightly at 5:15 p.m. (PDT). The show can be viewed on her Facebook page (@maryricehopkinsfanpage), her YouTube channel and Instagram (@maryricehopkins). Recorded episodes are available on all three to watch later.