Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Making on Impact: Reflections on Summer Camp

As I sat in the front row at Clowes Memorial Hall during the recent Choral Festival concert, I focused my camera on an ICC grad receiving her certificate.  I pulled back for a moment from the viewfinder to take a better look at her, as it suddenly struck me that this same singer was new camper a few years prior.  (During my early tenure at the Indianapolis Children's Choir we produced a camp video, and I spent a lot of time going over footage - I knew those faces!)

Time flies.  Kids grow up fast.  We get one chance at nurturing them through childhood. ICC helps in this regard. The Choral Festival singers now have a powerful childhood memory from the afternoon they stepped out on to the biggest stage in the city. Buzzing around that week I noticed how much fun our singer-volunteers were having, as well as several ICC alumni home from college. Buoyed by their own memorable experience, many returned to ICC for Choral Festival week. ICC makes a positive impact on young people.

How am I so sure about this?  A few years ago, I worked on a documentary for the ICC's 25th anniversary. Alumni played a starring role, and I was struck by the common themes of their statements. Across the board they spoke fondly of their years in the choir, about how much they loved their directors. They enjoyed the opportunity to sing with kids from all over central Indiana. Music allowed them express their feelings and thoughts as they were going through adolescence. The word 'fun' came up a lot and the idea that ICC felt like family. On an artistic level, they enjoyed striving for a bar that was set high, and surpassing it.

ICC Founder and Artistic Director Henry Leck sums it up best with his artistic vision: Helping kids achieve excellence.  That's what we do here.  We are the one of the largest and most successful children's choral programs in the world, with activities for kids of all ages. To the parents of the Choral Festival singers:  I appreciate you giving us a first look, and  I hope that you consider a second!

PS:  A recent radio interview on NPR goes into depth about the value of singing in groups. It's worth a listen!