LUBBOCK, Texas — Carolyn Cruse may be stuck in her house but she wasn’t about to let the pandemic take her or her campers voices. So she took to Zoom and brought Texas Tech University’s choir camp online.
“We realized we can sing, we can model, we can tap the beat, we can snap to give a tempo, we can do everything we normally do,” Cruse said.
With a typical enrollment of around 165, the camp saw an almost 185 percent increase. Enrollment this summer reached over 400 campers, due to being able to log in to camp from all over the state. But the move to an online classroom didn’t come without a learning curve.
“I’ve really learned that being vulnerable is so important for this kind of adventure,” Cruse said. “It’s been a very massive undertaking.”
For camp counselors like Chandler Renshaw, virtual camp still feels like camp.
“It doesn’t even feel virtual even though I’m sitting here on my screen and there are 30 people on my screen. It still feels like I’m sitting in the hallways in the dorms with them. You know laughing and screeching until it’s way too late,” Renshaw said.
But some campers miss the experience of being in person.
“That’s probably been the hardest part about his whole virtual camp. Yes, we still get to do the music and we still get to see each other but we lost some of the best times, in my personal opinion, the best parts of camp,” Kern said.
For campers, counselors, and directors alike, continuing the camp was top priority.
I think it just opens a lot of opportunities for people like me, who love choir and who love the arts,” Kern said. “Just because we are now in a social distancing kind of mindset in terms of education we can still come together to do the things we love.”
For Cruse, being able to still teach her campers has been a gift.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to feel like choir directors again,” Cruse said.
The camp is also hosting events each night like a virtual talent show to help make camp feel more like normal.