“This will be my last year!” say the 16-year-olds, sadly bemoaning the fact that after this summer they will be too old for Ontario Mennonite Music Camp, held each summer at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo.
Teens love this camp, they come year after year to get their fill of singing, playing, acting and collaborating around music. It’s the highlight of the summer for musically minded youth looking for ways to hone their skills and develop new musical expertise.
On the last night of camp, when the musical is finished, the applause has faded, signatures have been gathered, photos taken, and the parents have started looking at their watches thinking about the length of the drive home and all the junk that still needs to be loaded up, then the tears will flow.
Why do kids love music camp so much?
Is it the incredible fun of working with other teens to create a really great closing show in just two weeks? Definitely! In recent years, the 40 campers and their eight leaders have managed to stage versions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar and a world premiere of a musical about recycling.
Is it the mentoring that happens around the campfire and in the music sessions? Absolutely!
Is it the master classes in voice, piano, strings, band and guitar? Yes, master classes suit the needs of beginners and advanced musicians.
Is it the talks with counsellors who listen and want to talk about all the pressing issues of life? Yes.
Is it the permission to practise your instrument in the middle of the summer for several hours a day? Actually, yes!
Is it the holy moment when one can sense the nearness of God as the music floats out over the Grebel chapel? Absolutely yes!
Is it the sincerity of prayer as your new friends gather to share and talk? Yes!
Or is the wonderful sense of belonging and community that develops and grows, demanding reunions throughout the year? Of course.
Actually, it’s a combination of all of these things and more. This has been the legacy of the camp since 1983. Over the years many things have changed, but basics have not. From the beginning until now we have wanted to encourage and train young musicians from Mennonite and other churches and backgrounds to sing and play the songs of our faith with passion. We sing old songs, tried and true for generations. We sing new songs, just written or in process, alive for this generation. We grow in musical skill, we grow in faith.
“This will be my first year!” say the new young campers, excited about their two weeks away at Ontario Mennonite Music Camp. It’s going to be a great year. We are celebrating 30 years of camp music-making this summer. Be part of the fun!
Anniversary reunion event
The Ontario Mennonite Music Camp is holding a reunion on Aug. 18 at Conrad Grebel University College. All previous campers are encouraged to visit http://uwaterloo.ca/grebel/campers/ontario-mennonite-music-camp and register for the event.