Musings from my first day at Baltimore Children's Choir (BCC) Summer Day Camp

From July 18 - 22, several students aged 5 - 12 came to Abbott Memorial Presbyterian Church for our yearly summer day camp from 9:00 - 12:00 PM each day.

Every one of the children who attended BCC camp, whether younger or older, created new connections and reached outside of their comfort zones to try new things. They experienced challenges - and they grew their skills - in music, art, teamwork, creativity, self-confidence, and in their social/emotional learning.


Older children were teamed with younger ones, allowing for mentorship and the development of a community of care. In addition, they played games, learned new songs, and had a lot of fun.

After many years of teaching, I was a newcomer to the Baltimore Children’s Choir Summer Day Camp - just like many of the students. The counselors and teachers had plans, and ideas for music, crafts, snacks, and activities, and we came together on Monday, with joyful anticipation of how it would all fit together. For me, it felt like the first day of school in my first year of teaching.

This was by no means the first time running camp for Mr. Joey or Ms. Patti. They are pros at what they do, and they were ready to go with all of the ease and confidence that I have come to expect. Given that the first day went as smoothly for me and the kids as if we had been doing it together for years.


Our Fabulous Chaperones for BCC Summer Day Camp

Counselors are usually upper middle school or high school-aged students from the community. The job of a counselor at Baltimore Children’s Camp is full, as a counselor is a leader AND a peer. All counselors participate in all activities. They set the example, and they are in a leadership role. Students look to them for support.


At the start of the first day, counselors checked in the children, who came in with anticipation. Older students who were not counselors looked around the room and wondered how they would find their niche, and the air was filled with electricity and first-day apprehension. Our theme was a carnival, so we had donned the walls of the choir room with balloon clusters and stars hung from the ceiling, making the room festive and fun. However, the most palpable energy came from our connections together.


Warm-Ups


This might have been the first time some of the campers had ever experienced vocal warm-ups, so they were naturally a bit tentative. To alleviate this, we played a game, exploring the types of sounds we can make. We made hoots, sirens, low sounds, high sounds, matched pitches, sang solfeggio, and sang loud and softly. The younger students bought in right away, but the older students were still waiting to make a judgment. We capped off our warm-up with a game called "Poison" - a call and response game wherein the leader tries to trick the students into singing the “forbidden melody.” This is always a favorite because it allows the students to compete against the leader.


We set up Teams!

After warm-ups were over, Mr. Joey set up teams of mixed ages. With a one-minute timer, each team gave themselves an agreed-upon name. This year, we had the Music Notes and the Rainbows.


GAMES!

We went outside and played a game with horseshoes: team against team. The children were cheering for members of their team, and the points were racking up.


Grouping according to Age for Musical Rehearsals

After the horseshoe games, we split into groups according to age. Each group had its own space to explore musically, and the singers enjoyed the opportunity for more challenges. With the older students, we began rehearsing “This is Me” from Greatest Showman, and our counselor, Dia gave a most eloquent explanation of the song in terms of how it relates to positive self-identity and inclusion of others. She jumped right in and sang the opening solo, and then Nora volunteered herself for a solo. While the singing was a bit shy at first, students continually gained confidence.

Crafts and Rehearsal Switch

Ms. Patti was making crafts with the younger singers while the older students rehearsed, so when it was time to trade, the younger students came to meet us. They came with all sorts of energy. They learned fast, and they sang and danced with gusto!

Snacks

After this rehearsal, we all gathered for a snack. In keeping with our carnival theme, we had Animal Crackers!


Afternoon Games


Mini-Performance at the End of the Day

With about 25 minutes left in the day, we all piled back into the choir room, and Mr. Joey had each group perform for the other group. Applause abounded with cheers, and everyone felt a little more confident - This was capped by a game of rhythm poison, where the rhythmic passages became trickier each time. There were peals of laughter, and at the end, the students won - again!

We left with joy, looking forward to the next day.


The remainder of the week went smoothly. The students continued to create crafts, play games, learn new songs, and work on the ones they knew until they were ready to sing on Friday. The week was a success! By the end of the week, the students had learned several songs, found their voices, sang with confidence, and I look forward to seeing them all in the fall! Below is a gallery of photos from each day. Enjoy these photos, and remember, the best way to discover camp is to be there.

Day 2 - Memories


Day 3 - Memories


Day 4 - Memories

DAY 5 - Final Day and Farewell Until Next Year!

BCC Camp was a very positive experience for all of us. We cannot wait for camp in 2023! I hope you will join us next year!



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