What a delightful week I had at the Indiana Music Camp. When I arrived, I was like a deer in the headlights. I hadn't led a youth singing group in over twenty years and hadn't been able to pick out a single piece to sing prior to the encampment. I hit the ground running because my first responsibility of the day was to register and audition all of the singers in the 9-12 year old range. Even though they would be in my performance track regardless of how they did, it was nice to be able to meet each child and hear what they were capable of. Since the auditions were followed by a staff meeting (where my track was switched from a non-air-conditioned location to the air-conditioned lodge - whew!) and dinner, I suddenly found myself in the first rehearsal.
Thankfully, I had taken some time to google children's choir warm-ups and found a set of wonderful videos by a woman named Kathie Hill. She gave me some clever tips and ideas that I incorporated throughout the week (like asking the kids questions, "Who's the smartest kid in the choir?" and having them respond with intervals of "me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me"). We talked about the importance of singing with a wide open mouth. To encourage them, I had Trevor help me draw a poster with a boy with a cut-out hole for the mouth. They took turns coming up and trying to sing so that their mouths filled the whole opening.
I had several of the girls come up and lead everyone in a favorite chorus and before I knew it our first session was over. Immediately following the Welcome Meeting that night, I raced back to the Faculty Resource Center (in the lodge) and selected two pieces for our group to sing. We worked on "Happiness is the Lord," by Ira Stanphill and "High as the Sky" by Gowans and Larson (a Salvation Army classic). One of the reasons I selected "High as the Sky" was because I had memories of watching a 1000 kid choir from Britain singing this in their junior soldier uniforms with their adorable felt hats on. It would have been marvelous to have had a 1000-voice strong choir, but we did okay with our humble seventeen.
The next stressful responsibility I was focused on was my role, on Monday, as Officer of the Day. I botched the flag ceremony when I forgot to have the campers salute the flag (oops), but everyone was gracious. Since the theme of the camp was "Happy Campers," I selected the day's memory verse from James 1:2 which says, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." I talked about how God wants us to rejoice even when things don't go our way, like when we, perhaps, don't win the solo contest, etc. For the ten minute devotional at the end of the evening meeting, I gave my testimony about the time in my life when my parents were moved from Chicago to South Dakota just prior to my senior year in high school. I spoke about the spiritual growth I experienced as I passed through this difficult time in my life where I lost my class rank, friends, my instrument and a shot at the Chicago Staff Band. Then, at the Call to the Cross (a nightly mini-devotional prior to sending the kids off to their cabins for sleep), I gave an object lesson comparing Christians to tea bags, with Christ being the tea leaves. I explained how He can be in us, but we can fail to be effective until we are placed in hot water and others are finally able to see what we are made of.
After that, I was able to relax more and just enjoy the week's activities. My puppetry class went very well. I had four eager students who selected two different skits within the first ten minutes of our first session and enthusiastically practiced their lines. I was grateful to merely be an assistant in the recorder class, helping the older students learn how to make notes.
My favorite thing had to be playing in the Faculty Band with my son. Since Bryce was in the highest level band, he and a few others were asked to join the Faculty Band, giving up their free time for our rehearsals. Bryce wailed on the drums during one particular piece, "Island Dreams," where he started the piece off with a four or five measure drum-set intro. The music was quite challenging, especially since I had been placed on a valve trombone instead of my usual alto horn (there were four horn players, so they shifted the trombone player to the Eb tuba and shifted me to Bb trombone). It was hard to place my notes and often I was quite timid in my playing until I felt more confident that I had the right note. But, it was loads of fun to attempt to play the difficult numbers.
On Tuesday evening, to reward the boys who gave up their free time to join us, we had a faculty swim. This was fun, as well, since we played a game of water volleyball together. Then, on Wednesday, I went with a bunch of other faculty to an ice cream shoppe nearby and was able to treat my room-mate (since it was her birthday).
Before I knew it, we were at the end of camp, approaching the awards ceremony. My choir got ahead of the pianist for a bit (we only had two rehearsals with accompaniment), but did well overall. Bryce looked tremendously grumpy as he begrudgingly accepted his second place award in the solo contest (it is supremely difficult for a percussionist to beat out cornet players - he didn't miss a single note and wrote the solo himself but still failed to win, despite the cornetist missing notes on his solo) and the Divisional Commander's Award, which included a full scholarship to CMI (which he cannot use because of his involvement in football). As Bryce drove us home, we were content with a fun week at camp full of shared memories.