Three years ago, three music teachers in Dade City decided to hold a summer camp with a twist. Instead of knot-tying and campfire building, their campers would spend the summer learning the fundamentals of music.
That first day camp in 1993 had 18 kids.
In 1994, after enthusiastic word of the camp spread, enrollment more than quadrupled to 75.
Now, camp directors Linda Harris, Cheri Littlefield and Marion Durden are gearing up for even more campers in the 1995 sessions, planned for July 10 to 14 and 17 to 21.
They've moved the camp to larger quarters, expanded the staff to 11 teachers, added drama instruction, set design, classes for several levels of accomplishment, a student orchestra and chorale group, and joined with the new Dade City Arts in Motion young people's theatrical organization to provide a comprehensive musical day camp for kids 6 through 14 and high school students interested in drama.
They've named it Musicale Creations and adopted the nickname "Starmakers," and are planning a grand finale production, So You Want to Be a Star, to show the campers' parents and the community what they have learned.
The show will begin at 7 p.m. July 20 at the East Pasco Adventist Education Center on Centennial Road in Dade City, where the camp has been moved to accommodate the expected larger number of campers. Donations will be taken at the show for the AIM program.
"A good number (of campers) are returning from last year," Ms. Harris said.
Camp hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Students can choose one of two tracks, primary or intermediate, based on their interests. The primary schedule includes warm-up activities and instruction in percussion instruments or art, vocals, strings and keyboards. The intermediate schedule skips the warm-up and concentrates on instruction throughout the day.
No previous instruction in or knowledge of musical instruments is necessary to enroll in the camp, though instruction will be provided for campers who have had formal music lessons.
Campers can bring their own musical instruments, but the camp staff will provide keyboards, violins and other instruments for kids who don't have them.
All campers are involved in the drama classes.
Instructors include Mark Reed, an honors student in music theory at Stetson University who is organist for First Baptist Church of DeLand and accompanist for the Stetson University Campus Chorale, and Peter Ayer, professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin, where he taught music history, theory, voice, guitar and chorus. Ayer lives in Brooksville and conducts the Spring Hill Music Club Chorus. He teaches at Saint Leo College and directs the Oratorio Chorus.
The camp's new drama teacher is Lori Wolford, who teaches in the gifted program at River Ridge Middle/High School and is sponsor of the Junior Thespian Program. Ms. Wolford toured the Southeast for five seasons with the Academy Theatre in Atlanta, where she was a member of the faculty of the Academy Theatre School of Performing Arts. She also toured the country with the comedy troupe Funny Guise.
Also joining the camp faculty is Paul Tew, a professional instrumentalist, instructor and studio musician who has been in music for 25 years. Tew has performed on radio and television and given musical instruction on TV.
Patricia Thompson will provide instruction in handbell choir and chorale.
Returning as the violin instructor will be Elena Dumitrescu-Antonescu, a native of Romania and former member of the Philharmonic Orchestra in Bucharest, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra and the American Symphonic Orchestra in Queens, N.Y.
Also returning are Durden, a former teacher of the year at Lacoochee Elementary School, as instructor of piano and keyboard; Harris, the 1994 teacher of the year at Lacoochee, who will teach woodwind instruments; Littlefield, who has taught private piano lessons for 14 years and will teach piano to campers; and Deborah Roberts, who specializes in visual arts and will offer sessions in painting, mime and dance.
Ruthann Swanson continues as the self-styled "chief go-fer and mother of the group."
The camp costs $60 a week, with a $10-a-week discount for second and third children from one family. The camp instruction is in sequence, so those signing up for only one week are encouraged to enroll in the first week.
"Most kids come for both weeks," Ms. Harris said.
To register, send a $20 deposit to Musicale Creations, 37620 Meridian Ave., Dade City, FL 33525. For information, call (904) 567-6456.
"Applications are coming in very, very fast," Ms. Harris said.