Having students attend a summer band camp is an invaluable experience for the child and a huge boost to your band program. Summer band camp (often on a university campus) can offer students resources and experiences that are just not available to them in their home school district. Many students have life-changing musical experiences at summer band camp.
Here are some ideas on how to increase the number of your students who attend summer band camp:
Make it part of what your program does.
Treat band camp as though it’s just a normal expectation. (Not a requirement, just the norm.) Have dates listed on your annual band calendar. Post the dates on your concert programs starting in the fall. Share updates on Facebook when the band camp registration opens up. Share reminders on all social media throughout the spring.
Talk about it all the time!
Start in September by pointing out students that went last year. Ask kids that went to band camp to bring pictures (or if you take them at the camp, even better) and put them up on bulletin boards. Leave them up for about a month and when you take them down save them to put up on Launch Day. (This article has tons of ideas!)
Mention it to the students throughout the year.
- Wow! Sally – your chromatic scale is really sounding great. You went to band camp this summer didn’t you? That explains it – they usually really work on the chromatic in your sectionals. Well, it paid off. You sound great!
- Do you guys like this piece of music? I found it because the honors band at band camp played it. I always find the best pieces at band camp because all the bands play such fun music.
- Brass, increasing range is a really important thing for you to keep up with this summer. One of the best ways to do that is at band camp because you get to have sectionals every day with great teachers on your individual instrument. They have usually played their instruments longer than you’ve been alive and they can give you great tips!
- You know one of my favorite things about band class is hanging out with people that “get” music. People that love and appreciate how fun it can be to make music as a group. I love that about summer band camp too. It’s so fun to spend time with directors and students from around the state (country, world) that love band and love music. It’s a unique experience that is hard to find anywhere else.
Winter concert is the time to really begin promoting to parents.
Families start planning their summer travel very early. Here are some ideas of ways to introduce summer band camps at the winter concert:
- Put the dates of camps on the program (as well as website links)
- Have an insert in the program that has the dates, location, benefits, and quotes/pictures from students that have attended.
- Run a slide show before the concert or in between bands to show pictures, quotes from students, dates, info etc.
- Have students that have attended before read self-written statements about what they learned, how much fun they had and the reason they plan to go back. Put these in the program or slide show.
- If you are a middle school director and have former students who attended camp and are now participating in the high school band, invite them to come talk about what a difference camp made in their success in band and in life.
***If you invite students to speak, be sure to have them read from a script that you approve ahead of time. Remind them not to go ‘off script.’ 🙂
Attend the camp with the students.
Parents will feel better about sending their children, kids will be more willing to go, it shows your commitment to it and hopefully there are director workshops for you to attend. If you take your students to a camp that offers continuing education for directors, you might be able to get your district, school, or booster club to help out with your costs. Some camps offer director scholarships if they have enough students attend the camp.
Even partial scholarships are a great way to encourage the parents to make an investment. If the camp is $500 and their child receives a $100 scholarship the parents are much more likely to be willing to pay the $400. There’s just something about hearing your child “earned a scholarship” that makes you want to let them take advantage of it.
- Depending on your situation, scholarships could come from a booster club, activity fund, local businesses, student fundraisers etc.
- Be SURE you clear any financial concerns with your administration before announcing any type of scholarship.
- It is also good to have them do something to earn the scholarship even if it’s just filling out a commitment form and answering “why I want to attend band camp.”
- Have the students pay their part first and then you send the balance to the camp. That way you’re sure they will fulfill their part of the commitment.
After starting the conversation in the fall, be sure to have a big kick-off day in the spring! Read this article about having a band camp launch day.
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