August 17, 2023

The 2023 summer camp students’ first performance was for the Evergreen Estates residents in Lancaster, PA. As the children came off the bus full of nervous energy, they formed a line, and Mr. Shoff began using techniques they’d worked on in class to warm up their voices and focus them on the task at hand. In the days leading up to this performance, camp staff had discussed with the children the residents that would make up their audience, and the children determined that their goal was to cheer up the down and lonely and bring smiles to those facing a challenging stage of life.

Residents filled the community room as the drum beat began, and the children danced into place. Noah started with the call of the African song “Tshotsholoza,” and the other children responded in song with enthusiasm. The nervousness from earlier had faded away as they experienced the mood of the room shift to delight and burst with applause. With each song, the children’s confidence grew. They performed seven pieces, and various students accompanied the group with instruments. The smiles on the children’s and audience’s faces as they finished with “Better When I’m Dancing” by Meghan Trainor showed they succeeded in bringing joy to Evergreen Estates residents.

Before the students returned to camp, many visited a resident, said hello, and gave a handmade card or picture. It was a gesture they chose to do in addition to their performance. One student said, “This way, they have something to remember us by.” Emma shared, “I liked performing for the older people best because we brightened their faces. I am proud of making people smile.”

It’s beautiful to witness the power of music as the children recognize they have something valuable to give to others, and it brings joy to everyone.