In June, 2018, at the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center, five days will be transformed by the Texas Choir Camp (TXCC) into a spirit-filled experience of music and worship. It is during this camp that musicians of all ages and denominations come together to celebrate God through the worship arts.
What is Choir Camp?
Associated with the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, TXCC prides itself in providing a first-class seminar that focuses on all aspects of Christ-centered music and the worship arts. Age appropriate camps are offered for campers as young as 5 years all the way through adulthood. Whether your interests are in choral music or handbells — drama, liturgical dance, altar design, organ, piano, guitar, voice, photography, worship planning, or conducting (just to name a few of the offerings), everyone, regardless of age, can find something at Choir Camp.
What Does a Week at Choir Camp Look Like?
Texas Choir Camp begins with registration on Monday morning from 10:00 am until 12:00 p.m. in Copeland Center. There campers will receive camp materials like music, t-shirts, camp/room assignments and keys. Following lunch at the Lakeview cafeteria on Monday, an Opening Celebration and general orientation session familiarize campers to Lakeview. Rehearsals begin Monday afternoon.
Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s schedules include morning worship services, rehearsals (choral and handbells) as well as many choral reading sessions and classes on a variety of topics which typically include conducting, dance, handi-crafts, organ, orchestra and handbells (all experience levels). Class offerings vary and are diverse. They are publicized each year as they are finalized.
Each evening features special activities and events such as concerts, special entertainment and parties, and an all-camp variety show. One of the highlights of camp is Thursday when the camp comes together for a worship service and Holy Communion (the United Methodist Church practices open communion: all who earnestly repent of their sins are invited to God’s table). Children and youth campers have nightly devotions in their own camp prior to bedtime. A Nightly Vesper is offered in Peace Chapel for those in the adult camp. After Vespers, the adult camp enjoys freshly dipped ice cream in the old coffee shop which is “topped off” with lots of good visiting with fellow campers.
Friday morning brings all the campers and visitors to the Copeland Center for the Closing Festival Concert beginning at 10:00 am. Family members and friends are invited and encouraged to travel to Lakeview for this closing event. Each of the age-level vocal choirs along with handbell choirs, dancers, and others offer music and performances of music and skills they have learned during their week at Choir Camp. The concert traditionally closes with the Dean’s Anthem when all of the forces join together in a rousing anthem directed by the Choir Clinic Dean. Following the close of the concert, campers are usually homebound around noon.
Where is Choir Camp?
Nestled in the piney woods of East Texas, TXCC makes its home at the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center located near Palestine, Texas. Lakeview provides a wide variety of services including cafeteria food service, a swimming pool, prayer and hiking trails, fishing lakes and a challenge course featuring high and low ropes. Families are encouraged to experience our camp together. It is a great way to introduce smaller children to the camping experience in a safe Christian environment.
Who is in Charge?
The Texas Conference Choir Clinic, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) publicly supported non-profit corporation and is managed by a 40 member Board of Directors. The Executive Committee includes:
Dean: Jan Call
Dean Elect: Kenneth Clayborne
Registrar/Treasurer: Becky Collins
Executive Secretary: Noralyn Carpenter
Recording Secretary: Nancy Ginsberg
What happens in the Adult Camp?
The Adult Camp is the largest portion of attendees and you can easily find campers who have been attending this camp up to forty-some years. Many remember the very early days when Lakeview was a brand new facility and Texas Conference Choir Camp was organized with a two-fold purpose: to provide adult church musicians with educational opportunities as well as much needed income for the new conference center. TXCC and Lakeview have done well over the last 50 plus years and both still exist to provide opportunities to enhance the musical and worship arts skills as well as the Christian experiences of all who attend Choir Camp.
A clinician of outstanding ability and reputation is always present to work with the adult choir during the twice-a-day rehearsals. Classes related to music, worship, organ, visuals in the worship space, photography, liturgical dance, and drama are offered throughout the week. Reading sessions of choral music for age-level choirs along with anthems for general and seasonal usage in the local church are offered in the schedule.
The Adult Camp joins with other age-level campers for worship each morning, a Variety Show, a service of communion and the closing Festival Concert. A reception with the major clinicians, a nightly vesper service, and a time of fellowship and ice cream are also offered to the Adult Camp.
What is Choir Camp like for Children and Youth?
One thing that makes TXCC unique is our fully graded camp program, providing outstanding camp experiences for families to treasure together.
Elementary Camp is specially designed for children entering the 3rd grade in the fall of each camp year through the fifth grade. The elementary camp choral experience offers young singers the ability to work under the tutelage of an experienced and highly qualified children’s choir director. Children in the Elementary Camp not only experience singing in a mass children’s choir, but they also participate in handbells, arts/crafts, swimming and more. This year the children will also prepare a musical to be performed on the last day of camp. Regardless of the artistic advantages of attending Choir Camp, the kids will generally tell you that some of their most favorite activities at camp included the hiking, swimming, visiting the gift shop . . . oh, and who could forget the Snack Shack!
If you are entering the 6th, 7th or 8th grade in the fall, you will be a part of our exceptional Middle School Camp experience. While enjoying many of the same activities of the Elementary Camp, middle schoolers also participate in a high quality choral ensemble. Learning and playing handbells is always a hit for this group of kids, as well as classes in liturgical dance and sign language. They also enjoy the outdoor activities offered at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center such as swimming and visiting the “Wet Willie”.
High School Camp is the “place to be” at TXCC. This group historically “wows” the entire camp with their musical offerings at the Festival Concert. A high-energy camp experience encourages these young adults to experience the wonder of God through music in their developing lives. Whether they are taking advantage of regular camping experiences at Lakeview or rehearsing a classical choral piece, the word for this camp is “fun”! And the fellowship and friendships that develop in the High School camp are always fantastic and quite evident. Traditionally, the High School Camp Advanced Handbell Ensemble also work with the handbell clinician and participate in the Festival Concert. In addition to classes in choir, handbells, liturgical dance, guitar, recreation, crafts and Bible study, these outstanding youth traditionally lead the camp at a special tabernacle service following the Variety Show on Wednesday night. The Texas Conference Choir Clinic takes the participation of high school students seriously by providing leadership opportunities for those in this camp who demonstrate a commitment to the camp and to the worship arts. Three high school students (as nominated by their camp) are included as working and voting members of the TXCC Board of Directors. These students attend all Board meetings and help with the yearly preparation and planning of camp.
What about Handbell Ringers?
Find yourself in this list:
>I play in a 5 octave professional handbell ensemble.
>I play in a handbell ensemble in my church that I consider to be advanced
>I play in a handbell ensemble in my church, but I really want to challenge my handbell playing and expand my skills.
>I know something about playing handbells, but I need to get better and learn new techniques.
>I know absolutely nothing about ringing a bell (except, perhaps, the dinner bell)!
If you found yourself here, then you will find something for your handbell tastes in our Handbell Camp. TXCC, you see, is not just about singing, it’s also about RINGING! And lots of it. One of the treasures of our clinic is that it gives handbell artists the opportunity to participate in experience-level handbell ensembles in a group setting. Mass ringing is available for beginner, intermediate and advanced ringers. While the beginner and intermediate ensembles are open for anyone, those desiring to participate in the advanced group are asked to learn and play music on a level 3 or greater classification of difficulty. The advanced group is also expected to perform at the Festival Concert and to accompany as needed on the Dean’s Anthem.
Handbell Camp is Not Just About Playing Music. Do you want to learn how to four-in-hand or Shelley? What about improving your bass bell technique? Ever had a handbell break 5 minutes before a performance and not know how to fix it? These are some of the classes routinely offered and taught by our highly qualified staff of handbell artists. Looking for something new to ring? Part of our handbell experience includes the offering of Reading Sessions. Join with other handbell artists to sight-read the newest handbell compositions, or perhaps something that’s tried and true, or great seasonal classics. Not only will you hear new musical compositions, but you’ll also improve your reading skills and have great fun doing it.
Can my Young Children Come, Too?
Our newest camp was started in 2005 in response to the growing need of families who desired to attend and participate in Choir Camp but either did not want to be away from their children for the week or for whom child care costs were prohibitive. Kids Kamp for children ages five, six and seven, was established and has been was very positively received! While parents may bring younger children to camp also, those birth up to age 5 will need to be in the care of a responsible adult. Some parents bring a “sitter” or other family member to be with those younger children.
With the addition of Kids Kamp, families with children age 5 and up will be able to participate in their own activities with the assurance of safe and quality care for their children. The children spend the night with their responsible adult family member in their lodging area. The children begin their age-appropriate activities following worship each morning, eat lunch with their family, and return to Kids Kamp for afternoon activities until the evening meal. If desired, there are additional Kids Kamp activities planned while families attend evening choir rehearsal. A highlight of the week is when Kids Kamp performs in the Variety Show! Kids Kamp has become a very popular option for families and the activities are of the utmost quality. In addition to singing, our youngest campers may learn to play the ukulele or handchimes. Our Kids Kamp gets rave reviews!
What Should I Bring to Camp?
Campers will want to bring:
Pillow and bed linens or sleeping bag*
Cool, casual clothing
Cup or glass (preferably paper or plastic)
Pencil for marking music in rehearsal
Musical instrument that you play
Costumes/music for variety show auditions
* First-class housing provides linens and a coffee pot
Many campers are more comfortable if they bring:
Earplugs (if sensitive to others’ snoring)
Fan (cabins and dorm rooms are well air conditioned, but some enjoy additional air)
Blanket (some may not want as much air conditioning as others)
Backpack or tote bag (for camp notebook, music, and class handouts)
Towel-drying rack (helpful for high humidity or frequent pool use)
Shower shoes or flip flops
Sun screen and/or hat