Camp FAQ's

Can the camp accommodate special dietary restrictions?
What do kids say about camp?
It sounds terrific but we can't afford that.
My questions aren't answered here. Now what?

Summers are precious family time. Why is camp so long?
For many of our former students who look back at their choir experience, camp is their favorite part; a safe and supervised environment that allows friendships to develop and deepen, that encourages self-reliance, and that develops both individual responsibility and teamwork. Our conductors report that we accomplish a full year's worth of theory and musicianship training, and most of a semester's worth of rehearsals in 12 days for the performing department and 7 days for training department.

 
Performing Department singers have between five and six hours of classes and rehearsals each day. This enables Concert Choir, Ecco, and Ensemble to kick start the year. Music that will be used in performances all year long and on tour the following summer is started at camp, and Concert Choir and Ensemble students are pre-tested so they can be placed in theory groups based on specific curriculum goals. Because students have theory classes every day, progress is often substantial. These unique learning conditions cannot be duplicated during the choir year, and make camp an integral part of the PEBCC curriculum for the Performing Department.
 
Training Department singers have about three hours of classes and rehearsals each day as well as lots of time for activities and friendship building. [Go to top]
 
Who are the counselors?
Counselors are mostly former choir members now in college or beyond.  Most of them started as CIT's while still in high school.
 
In addition to the counseling staff, for Performing Department campers, we also have a music faculty of leading voice teachers, all with advanced music degrees and many years of teaching experience. Three or four leading pianists/accompanists are also on staff. 
 
Voice Faculty
 
Theresa Cardinale
Shauna Fallihee
Audrey Howitt
Amy McKenzie
Laura Storm 
 
Conducting/Accompanist Faculty
 
Bob Geary (Artistic Director, Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, Ensemble Conductor)
Sue Bohlin (Associate Director for the Performing Department, Ensemble Accompanist, and Head of Camp Music Theory Program)
Andrew Brown (Concert Choir Conductor and Curriculum coordinator)
Kate Offer (Camp Joyful Voices Conductor)
Katie Stephan (Ecco Accompanist and Voice Teacher)
Eric Tuan (Ecco Conductor)
 
Alice Del Simone (Camp Director, PEBCC Program Administrator)
 
Additionally, this team is supported by CITs and Walker Creek staff.
 [Go to top]

CITs?  What's that?

Counselors in Training (CITs) are selected from high school applicants – High School Juniors and Seniors in Ecco and Ancora. Each year we have three to five CITs at camp. [Go to top]

What is the counselor to camper ratio?

For Camp Joyful Voices, we maintain a ratio of about one counselor for every three campers.

For the Performing Department Camp, the ratio is about one counselor for every five campers. [Go to top]

What is the schedule?

Camp Joyful Voices (for members of the Training Department)

For Camp Joyful Voices the mornings consist of a warm-up and then a combined rehearsal and musicianship class.  The goal is to experience a musical concept in the course of playing a game or learning a new folk dance that will also show up in their performance repertoire.  That way, before they are asked to move to the task of reading music, their ears, minds, and bodies are already prepared for the challenge.  Rehearsal time is also spent refining singing and performance technique as well as learning a little "choral-ography" when called for.  Besides wanting the campers to learn and grow as choristers, we also aim for them to have a wonderful time as campers, so morning rehearsals always include a long break and a snack (as well as the occasional trip to the organic garden to pick raspberries and pet the goats!).

Lunch and rest period follow the morning's rehearsal, and every afternoon includes a planned activity and some free time to go swimming at the lake or visit Arts and Crafts.  Joyful Voices campers are supervised at all times by CITs and counselors.

The JV camp evening starts with attending the daily all-camp recital.  Every evening staff and students perform both vocal and instrumental solo and small ensemble repertoire for the assembled camp.  Joyful Voices campers are welcome to perform on evening recitals and encouraged to bring their instruments to camp (don't worry we have a piano!).  Dinner and evening rehearsal follows recital.  Evening rehearsals are shorter and tend to be more performance-focused than the morning.  There is a special evening activity every night and then CITs hold "Vespers" for their campers.  Here they sing songs, share stories, or play quiet games before the campers settle down for a good night's sleep.

Performing Department Camp

Concert Choir, Ecco, and Ensemble have similar camp schedules. Here is a sample camp schedule:

8:45 After breakfast all campers and staff attend a warm-up that is led by voice faculty and conductors.  
9:00 Theory Class
10:00 Rehearsal
12:00 Lunch
12:45-1:45 Rest Period
1:45-5:00 Afternoon Activities (activities include and are not limited to: swimming, crafts, games, free time, hiking, sectional rehearsals, voice lessons and voice classes)
5:00 Recital
5:30 Dinner
6:15 Rehearsal
8:00 Evening recreational activity
9:00 Cabin activity
9:30 Lights out
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Can children not enrolled in the choir join camp?  
Absolutely! Each year a handful of children who have never participated in the choir join camp. For some it's the start of their choir tenure. For others, it's an opportunity to participate in the PEBCC summer program. [Go to top]

Where is the camp?
For ten years PEBCC has been going to Walker Creek Ranch, http://www.walkercreekranch.org/ home to the Marin County Outdoor School and Conference Center. Owned and operated by the Marin County Office of Education, Walker Creek is fifteen miles west of Petaluma. Situated on 1700 acres including forest, chaparral, grassland, and riparian ecosystems, it is an ideal setting for our residential music camp program. The site also has miles and miles of hiking trails, a four-acre pond, an organic garden, and a low-ropes challenge course. [Go to top]

How do kids get to and from camp?  

he camp experience begins with the bus ride up.  Families drop off their campers at Piedmont Community Hall in the morning of first day of camp and say goodbye to their children.  On the final day of Performing Department camp and Camp Joyful Voices (Training Department Camp), parents are invited to a midday performance. Parents take their children home following the performance, return transportation is not provided.

For Ecco Camp, transportation to and from camp is provided. The drop off location is Piedmont Community Hall in the morning of the first day of camp, and pick up is at the same location in the afternoon of the last day of camp.  [Go to top]

What is the best way to prepare for our child’s first sleep away camp?  
Campers who have never been to sleep away camp can benefit from sleepovers with friends or relatives in advance.  Focus on the fun and growth he or she will have at camp rather then what she will miss from home.  Chat with singers who have already been to camp.  [Go to top]

What if my child is homesick?  
Homesickness is a fairly common occurrence in students of all ages. We have even had high school students experience homesickness. Most campers who experience homesickness have fun during the days but miss their parents, and the familiarity of home at bedtime. In most cases it takes 3 or 4 days for the camper to adjust to their new surroundings, but some students will experience homesickness for the duration of camp. It is very important for parents to communicate to their children that they know they might be homesick, that it is part of growing up, and that they (the parents) will be so very proud oftheir child when they work through it. Talking to parents on the phone actually can exacerbate the problem, so we have adopted a no phones at camp policy. However, in more challenging situations, it is possible for campers to speak to their families on a counselor’s phone. Packing a favorite stuffie can help. [Go to top]

Can I come see it?  
Parents are invited to the final performance on the last day of camp, but parents may not visit during camp. However, if you would like to visit the camp before it begins, please stop in and look around. A family trip to Pt. Reyes National Seashore would be a perfect excuse to stop by and it would be a great way to create a sense of familiarity with the camp. [Go to top]

Should my child bring her mobile phone or other electronics?
No, we do not allow cell phones, MP3 players, eReaders, laptops or any other electronic device.  Disposable cameras are preferred to those that require recharging.  [Go to top]

Can the camp accommodate special dietary restrictions? 
Food allergies are taken seriously and monitored carefully.  All health issues, including food allergies and dietary restrictions, must be noted on the health form. The review of health forms is on a “need to know” basis and is shared with appropriate staff. Also, the Walker Creek kitchen staff prepares vegetarian and vegan food at every meal. Parents of campers with specific health needs can speak with the camp nurse prior to camp. [Go to top]

What do kids say about camp?  

“Camp is my favorite place in the whole world, because you are with people who share the same love of music.”
-a 10th Grader in Ensemble
“Camp is fun! Camp is awesome! It’s the best camp ever!”
-a 5th Grader in Concert Choir
“The food is really good. It’s one of my favorite things about camp.”
-a 7th Grader in Concert Choir
“I like the lake!”
-a 5th Grader in Concert Choir
“I like that it feels like you go through the forest in the morning on the way to breakfast, and I like the night activities.”
-a 6th Grader in Concert Choir
[Go to top]

It sounds terrific but we can't afford that.  
Supported by the generous donations of parents and foundations, PEBCC provides scholarships for some camp participants. For more information, visit https://piedmontchoirs.org/scholarships [Go to top]

My questions aren't answered here.  Now what?  
Please call the Choir office, or reach out to parents who's kids have gone to camp. The following parents have had kids at camp and are happy to answer questions from a parent perspective:  [Go to top]

Shirley Pao: spao@pobox.com
Nancy Aldrich-Ruenzel: aldrichruenzel@gmail.com
David Baraff: deb@pixar.com