June 23, 2016 : By Ted Allen
Of the seven academic and 47 athletic Summer Camps offered at Liberty University this year, one of the fastest growing is the Music and Worship Camp, being held this week in the new Center for Music and the Worship Arts building, home of Liberty’s School of Music.
The number of campers (predominantly high school students) has nearly doubled from last year, with close to 50 students from 13 states and the Virgin Islands.
The camp draws a church-based group of teenagers looking to accelerate their skills in singing and playing instruments ranging from piano to percussion.
“The specific purpose of our camp is to be able to reach young people who are doing ministry work, who are back in their youth groups, maybe even contributing on their worship teams, and giving them additional exposure and training,” said Dr. John Kinchen, Liberty’s associate dean of the Center for Music & Worship. “There couldn’t be a better place to come and to learn about what God is doing and to expose them to a greater capacity in musicianship.”
|A Liberty student practices guitar with a camp participant on piano during this week's Music and Worship Camp. (Photo by Jessie Rogers)|
Campers receive instruction from Kinchen and several other faculty members in orchestra, choir, worship, and theory classes. A total of six worship teams are led independently in morning sessions before participating in worship and big choir practice in the afternoons. Thomas Road Baptist Church Worship Pastor Charles Billingsley, an artist in residence and instructor of worship studies, led a breakout session on Wednesday. Current Liberty music students and recent graduates serve as camp counselors.
“Our counselors come from a variety of backgrounds,” Kinchen said. “We have some in performance degrees, others in music education, and some, as you would expect, from music and worship. So it’s been exciting to see even the diversity of those students serving our summer camp from our own student body.”
As the numbers and skill levels of participants increase, Kinchen said more options will be added for future summers.
“We have several string students; we have brass students; we have woodwind students,” Kinchen said. “So we have a vibrant worship orchestra this year and a full choir, and we’re really excited about what this is going to look like next year. We are going to expand these areas of interest, because we see the interest is there already and the students are very highly skilled.”
Liberty’s new state-of-the-art facilities have provided students opportunities to perfect their crafts in professional settings. The first wing of the 141,000-square-foot building opened last fall and the main auditorium and concert hall is scheduled to host its first event on Sept. 6.
“We are so blessed to have these facilities, recital halls and rehearsal rooms, which are second-to-none acoustically, electronically, technologically,” Kinchen said. “We’re anticipating the opening of our concert hall, and next year the camp will use that for our opening and final programs.”
Seeing the campers interact and assimilate into a unified chorus and synchronized symphony — as well as a tightly knit band of believers — has been rewarding for Kinchen and his staff.
|Choral members sing during a breakout session in the Music and Worship Camp. (Photo by Jessie Rogers)|
“It is an interesting thing to watch them blend together, not just musically, but as people, and developing relationships,” he said. “It’s been incredible to watch even after just a day how the synergy takes place with these young people and it translates to what they do when they get together as a group and play and sing together. They have a real love for each other, which is exciting to see.”
The goal of the camp staff is to have the budding musicians and aspiring vocalists put together a series of worship band concerts on Saturday morning and a closing assembly consisting of an eight-song program with a choir and accompanying orchestra in the afternoon.
“It’s always a challenge to try to prepare a student to master a large program — both in their bands and in our orchestra and choir — in a short period of time,” Kinchen said. “So far, we’re seeing some great results.”
Liberty’s Summer Camps offer opportunities for elementary to high school students to participate in a wide array of activities on campus during the months of June and July. Besides the Music and Worship Camp, academic offerings include an overnight Aviation Camp led by the School of Aeronautics from June 26-July 1, an overnight Moot Court Camp sponsored by the Helms School of Government from June 27-July 1, weekly Theatre Day Camps from June 11 to July 2, and an Acting Uncut overnight camp sponsored by the Department of Theatre Arts from July 9-17. Young athletes looking to improve their games and gain exposure in front of college coaches can participate in one of several sports camps in baseball, softball, basketball, football, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. Winter sports enthusiasts can sharpen their skates, skis, and snowboards at ice hockey camps at the LaHaye Ice Center and Next Level skiing and snowboarding camps at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre.