Take 80 high school age boys, a top notch team of instructors, a dedicated group of counselors and support staff, a weekend at a camp site in the Sierra Foothills and throw them all together with the best music on the face of the earth, Barbershop Harmony, and stand back - it's late September and time for the Northern California Youth Harmony Camp!
Friday, September 8 to Sunday, September 10, 2017
in Pollock Pines, CA
2017 Harmony Camp will feature Instant Classic and The Newfangled Four along with clinicians Gabe Caretto (Dean), Ron Black, Jim Halvorson, and Theo Hicks. We're Really Looking Forward to this year; and with your help we'll have one hundred plus young men at Harmony Camp 2017 in Pollock Pines, CA.
The following introduction was written by our first Dean of Harmony Camp, Gary Bolles back in 2003, and it sets forth in a small way, the magic those attending Youth Harmony Camp experience. Gary starts by talking about the “ingredients” of the Camp being the one hundred boys, the incredible quartets, and the four high level clinicians.
We simply put all these ingredients together and with the combined talent of the dedicated guys who volunteer their time and energy truly magical things happen during the weekend.
However there is so much more that needs to be communicated. At FWD Harmony Camp we focus on fundamentals: the fundamentals of vocal singing, proper breathing, posture and basics. Over the weekend the boys experience living in the wonderful environment of barbershop harmony through their learning of four or five songs, learning and singing tags, and participation in the totally positive culture of barbershop.
An increased emphasis in the Society on musical excellence is fine. We all enjoy and appreciate the fantastic performances of Westminster, Vocal Majority, and Masters of Harmony. I, however, believe other things are important as well. There are ways of teaching, ways of performing, and ways of approaching barbershop (and the arts) that are not based on just that "gold medal" or "first place." The philosophical underpinnings of the FWD Youth Harmony Camp are exhibit #1 for this kind of approach.
At the FWD Youth Harmony Camp we do not focus on the Sunday morning show. I'll say that again, we do not put a lot of our energies into preparation for the Sunday morning show. We do present a one-hour show Sunday morning for parents and friends. Costumes and props are not used. The boys simply sing and have fun showing parents and friends what they have experienced and learned in their intensive weekend experience of being "hot dipped" in barbershop.
Gary emphasizes that the FWD Youth Harmony Camp is different from all the other Camps around the country; but since I've only been involved with the FWD Camp, I cannot relay firsthand the excitement that he and others who have seen and experienced other Camps have told us. What I can tell you is our focus on the basics does lead to Barbershoppers for Life. Our focus on the basics does provide the boys with tools to use in their school programs and in their life, and co-incidentally to an awesome Sunday morning show.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say; and Marty Lovick, a presentation judge from Evergreen, and one of our top clinicians a few years ago commented during one of the last songs of the show that in his "professional judging" opinion, the boys' chorus just sang at a very high level. My, my, imagine that: teaching fundamentals results in high level "fun" performances.
And in line with this emphasis on fundamentals, another of our objectives is to expose the boys to the highest level of talent and achievement in the barbershop world. We do that regularly with quartets like Instant Classic, Forefront, Vocal Spectrum and OC Times. We believe that such exposure plants the seed of future dreams in the boys showing them up front and personal that “anything is possible”.
Which brings me to Camp 2016, just past. Our headliner, Gold Medal Champion Forefront just wowed the boys with their inimitable sound and interpretation of songs. All four, Andrew (Drew), Kevin,Brian and Aaron each contributed to the tags, the teaching and the overall fun of Camp with spectacular success in terms of getting the boys "hooked" on barbershop harmony! And to add even more to the barbershop way of life, there was our own Far Western District and International Collegiate Champion The Newfangled Four, who not only meshed with Forefront incredibly well but really connected with the boys in ways that us old guys just can't.
In going over the great "goings on" of Forefront and The Newfangled Four, I am reminded of the spectacular line up of quartets that we have been privileged to feature at Camp, including Metropolis, Realtime (twice), OC Times (twice), Vocal Spectrum, Storm Front, Lunch Break, and After Hours. All District champion quartets and International Champions! Wow!
And this coming year our headliner quartet for 2017 is Instant Classic, another group of really young guys who stole the International stage in 2015 and became one of the youngest quartets to win the Gold Medal. The magic they will bring along with The Newfangled Four portends to be one of the all-time great Harmony Camps.
Harmony Camp creates Barbershoppers For Life. This is a positive fact that has been proven over and over. And what better way to guide our young men into a positive, fulfilling hobby (or more) that will remain with and provide a guidepost throughout their lives.
The young men truly appreciate and benefit from the support provided by so many FWD Chapters and so many of you individually.
FWD Harmony Camp Director
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