British Columbia

Not just for kids: Choir day camp for adults boosts confidence and skills

Not many adults attend day camp, but a West Vancouver music camp offers the opportunity for people over 30 to do just that.

Participants say singing together is a bonding, joyful experience

Musician Canyon, left, and Tim Parsons, right, say they get singing practice and much more out of participating in adult choir camp. (Matt Meuse/CBC)

A summer day camp in West Vancouver is appealing to a non-traditional demographic of campers looking to build skills and friendships.

Participants in the choir camp, offered by Harmony House Music School, are adults over the age of 30. They come together for a week to take lessons in music reading, ear training and harmony and many say the benefits of singing together go beyond the lesson plans.

Sandi Melody, co-founder of the camp, said her initial plan was to host a camp for teens four years ago. The problem was no teens registered. The solution was a lot of adults wanted to join after seeing the camp advertised and Adult Choir Camp was born.

Melody is thrilled with the way things turned out and enjoys seeing her campers progress over the week.

"I love doing it," she said, "By the fifth day, it's unbelievable how much more skilled you are."

Co-founder Jeremy Vallance said he loves seeing people transform too and not just when it comes to their musical capabilities.

"You see that light come on, that expression of joy like, 'wow, I can do this,'" said Vallance.

Choir campers at West Vancouver United Church. (Matt Meuse/CBC)

Let your guard down

Tim Parsons moved last summer from the Lower Mainland to Ottawa but flew back just to go to camp during the third week of July.

"The joy and energy that comes from the sharing of music with others is just fantastic," said Parsons.

He likes how people seem to gain confidence and relax at camp.

"Vancouver has people who are fairly guarded .... this is one little world where you can let that guard down," he said.

His sentiment is echoed by Canyon, a musician who said he hasn't laughed more in years or had more fun since coming to the camp.

Sandi Melody, left, and Jeremy Vallance originally planned to co-ordinate a choir camp for teens before finding so many eager adults willing to participate. (Matt Meuse/CBC )

Canyon has been playing instruments for years but had never taken up singing until he came to camp this year.

He said he loves being able to "just be with a group of people and relax and enjoy each others company".

"Ill never stop singing," said Canyon, who hasn't been to summer camp since he was 17 and finds it "hard to explain" the good feelings this experience has given him.

"I would recommend this for pretty much anybody," he said. "Whether you want to become a great singer .... or even if you just want to feel better in life."

To hear interviews with the camp co-founders and participants on location see the audio link below:

With files from Emma Renaerts, The Early Edition