Author: Corey, Elena

Memories of Children’s Mini-Camp
Images swirl together and tumble on top of each other like—well-- like little kids—before they become self-conscious and reflect the idea that showing enthusiasm for something is uncool. The images crowd into each other and jostle for first place in my memories. So many—so little space—it was suggested I write just a couple of paragraphs.

What about the three and a half year old who couldn’t take her eyes off the fiddle while we demonstrated it and rushed over to touch it the minute that was allowed. What about the radiant shine in her eyes?

What about the child who watched as the method of holding the fiddle was demonstrated, and then, when I picked up the baby-sized guitar, gushed forward saying, “I know how—let me show it.”

I complied and she promptly tucked the edge of the guitar under her chin as if it were a fiddle, and then tried to reach down the long neck to hold the top. Several of us nearby restrained ourselves from laughing out loud while we showed the ‘easier’ way to hold the guitar.

What about the little lad who stood staunchly in line with proud posture, silently waiting his turn. When he got to the head of the line, he ducked his eyes, suddenly shy, then made a dash for the folds of my skirt. Hidden there, his voice muffled, he spoke his thought almost shrilly--as if I were a clerk in a store’s complaint department, who could make the world right again for him. “They wouldn’t let me bring Sniffy (or Skippy?—I couldn’t tell which).”

A moment’s clarification yielded the information that he was speaking of his dog, whom he hated to leave behind. I expressed empathy with him but explained that none of us got to bring our pets, and we all missed them. He was not pacified. I picked up my autoharp and placed his hand, which was still gripping folds of material in my skirt, on a chord bar and pressed down, then strummed with the other hand. Soon he forgot his peeve at us for denying him the company of his beloved dog. He lingered after others had left and played the autoharp longer.

And what about tall, serious red-headed Nicholas, who approached one of the volunteer helpers after the camp had finished and announced somberly, “I’ll learn to play the guitar first, then take up the banjo.” Taking him seriously, since he is a thoughtful child, she said, “Have you decided then?” “Yes,” he nodded. “The guitar first and next, the banjo.” No doubt he will start on the path to master his two favorite instruments.

But these memories are only a few of many and we’ve already exceeded the space allotted for the write up. I guess the experience may be summed up objectively and dispassionately by saying: The CBA successfully concluded its 2004 Childlren’s Mini-Camp, having some 35 participants and about a dozen adult helpers. We didn’t do everything perfectly, but we look forward to using insights we learned to create an even better children’s mini-camp for 2005.

Let the mental images all swirl together; the memories are etched in our minds, weaving beautiful tapestries and calling us toward getting music more available to more kids.

Posted:  6/26/2007

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email