My previous post on "String Camp" gives some of the backstory of how I got involved with BW Summer Camps. This year I worked a week as a guest conductor during String Camp and then during Band Camp I became "Chief of Staff/LIT Teacher." My good friend Jared Rawlings was Chief of Staff during String Camp and somehow we started the trend of saluting him whenever his title was mentioned. That trend continued with me (mixed in with some creative salutes... including a Hunger Games 3-finger kiss) and I must say I can't help but think of saluting every time I hear "Chief of Staff." :-)
This position was new this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The Chief of Staff aspect was to make sure all our staff stayed on par. They were great! There were only a few minor instances where I had to speak to staff about not doing exactly what they were supposed to (much better than some previous years...). And then there was the LIT Teacher aspect. "LIT" stands for Leader in Training and these are high school students who have aged out of camp but come back, kind of as junior counselors. They have leadership classes throughout the week and also assigned responsibilities within the ensembles. I had 6 LITs, 2 new and 4 returning, and they all worked very hard through the week.
Here are a few more specific memories and reflections.
The start... the band students anxiously awaiting the announcement of the band rosters! The counselors in front and behind... a bit anxious themselves...
First night staff jazz band concert. *Love* watching Bill lead jazz band! Also love that a violinist and cellist played jazz bass for this event. They jumped in for this one but I got to play bass with the student jazz band later in the week. My first time on jazz bass! :-) This theme will come back again and again but a huge part of my love for these camps is the multi-talented-ness of all the staff. Their ability to play many instruments, teach many subjects, and jump in to help with whatever is necessary is so inspiring.
Gangnam style! Somewhat crazy counselors help keep the super-crazy kids in line. Not to mention the more fun we have, the easier it is to keep the kids having fun.
Penn State proud! Tim and Andrew did such a fabulous job working camp. They worked so hard and were so dependable. And on top of that they played beautifully on the staff recital! So good for the young students to hear great examples of musical playing (especially from instruments that don't often get solos) and so proud those musical examples came from Penn State students!
"We're too old for this!" Sadly this was a common statement from the "senior" staff at camp... You may indeed be too old when you try to unfold yourself from a chair and make this face:
(If Jared had a camera he would have caught me making the same face!)
LIT class fun... can your team weave the rope through the hula-hoop structure without making it fall? I must offer Jared Rawlings a huge credit here. In his first year as a Ph.D. Music Education student at the University of Michigan he created a phenomenal LIT Curriculum for us to use. He established goals and objectives and compiled a ton of activities and discussion points to use. All of the activities you'll see us doing here came from his curriculum and I am so grateful he let me use it and learn from it. I hope we'll get to keep working together, learning together, and trading jobs at camp for many years to come. :-)
These LITs did a great job talking leadership and trust throughout the week. I hope they can take some of our discussions back to their bands and other leadership roles and keep growing into amazing people. They enjoyed playing "Dragons" and chasing each other in this game more than they initially thought they would. You'll never know what you might learn until you try!
I had to remind myself through the week that the LITs are high school students. It was hard not to treat them like full adult counselors! But I tried to guide them (and protect them a little) as they worked just as hard as every other counselor. It was such a great experience for me to get to teach a leadership curriculum and challenge myself as well as my students about what makes a good leader. On our last day the LITs had to guide each other through homemade mazes. It definitely brought out some interesting tendencies. :-) But one of the many things I learned from Prof. Joss - cookies make everything better. We finished our week with cookies and pastries from Dick's Bakery (where my parents' wedding cake came from 30+ years ago!) and finished up smiling.
Another perfect example of one of my favorite parts of camp. Jared (percussion primary) conducting, Vicki (flute primary) close by to assist, Michael (trumpet primary) behind the tubas/trumpets helping out and Bill (trombone primary) sitting in with the french horns. Any others I missed? So many multi-talented people helping out the youngest band in anyway they can. These are some of my best friends and I am so blessed and grateful to get to work with them and learn from them summer after summer.
And finally... the end of camp. All camps. The "senior staff" being honored with sombreros. P.S. I hate being called 'senior!' Bill, me, Prof. Joss, and Jared. What a crew! Every year Bill, Jared, & I have the debate "will we be back next year? We're so old!" And then come January we start missing camp like crazy and can't wait to be back! Just like a camper, the end of camp is always bittersweet for me. It's really hard to leave my friends, knowing it might be a full year before I see them again, but so grateful for the time we spend together and the friendships I know I can count on for life. :-)
Here's to next year, more teaching in shorts & tank tops, more lanyard tans around my neck, more bruises I can't explain, more teaching with my best friends, and more fantastic memories!
And your reward for reading this far... my compulsive picture-taking turned into a GIF of the counselors dancing. Enjoy! :-)