By Racquel Joseph
Long before freshman orientation, some students’ first exposure to Baylor’s campus is at summer camp. By the end of this summer, almost forty groups will have set up camp across campus. Some are university-sponsored, some are independent, but every camp draws young people for instruction, growth, and fun. Baylor has plenty for students and parents to choose from, and all campers get a chance to explore, stay in dorms, and, often, work with Baylor faculty.
One of the larger camps, Baylor’s All-State Choral Camp, ran from July 6-10 this year. The camp’s director, Dr. Lynne Gackle, greeted close to 300 students for this year’s program.
“We offer individual voice lessons and sight-reading. We really focus on music literacy, something no one else does,” Gackle said.
The camp is intended to prepare students for the auditions for the Texas All-State Choir. Participants’ days are packed with about six hours of singing. Faculty members in the voice department support the camp by giving individual voice lessons where they can sometimes discover their future students.
“[The camp] attracts the brightest and best to Baylor music,” Gackle said.
Some of the campers yet to arrive on campus will be attending the Baylor Debate Workshop or the Baylor Soccer Advanced Academy. According to its current director, Dr. Matt Gerber, Baylor’s summer debate program has been around since the late sixties. The workshop is longer than most summer programs. Gerber calls it “an immersive two-week session.” According to Gerber, the workshop gives Baylor an opportunity “to recruit for the debate program…and give back to the high school debate program.” The cherry on top? Many of the students who attend the workshop enroll at Baylor even if they are not recruited for debate.
It’s a similar story at the Baylor Soccer Advanced Academy, a girls-only camp. Baylor’s associate head soccer coach Paul Dobson says it’s a trend for players to attend camp where they hope to go to school. Other attractions include the small size of the camp and the fact that head coach Marci Dobson is a former U.S. national team player.
“The information that she can provide is really invaluable to girls who want to play at that same level,” Paul Dobson said.
The camp is now in its third summer, and a boys’ camp is already in the works.
Besides young campers, Baylor also attracts a wide range of people through conferences. The Alleluia Worship Conference will be on campus July 27-30, marking its ninth summer at Baylor. Sponsored by the Center for Church Music at Baylor, the conference allows guests to hear from clinicians like Michael Burkhardt and Marva Dawn on being a modern organist, and obstacles and ideas in modern worship. Attendees generally include music ministers, choir teachers, and entire praise bands.
Summer camps help to introduce new generations to the beauty and uniqueness of Baylor’s campus. In their ability to uncover talent and keep a summer vacation interesting, they are invaluable.