From August 28 to September 4, 151 students attended the 42nd annual National Music and Gospel Arts Camp for Canada and Bermuda in Jackson’s Point, Ont. Special guests for the weekend were Colonels Glen and Eleanor Shepherd, retired officers from Montreal, who delivered spirit-filled messages on Sunday, Monday and Saturday that focused on transformation and social justice.
In addition to choosing from the brass band, vocal, drama, worship or media streams, students at the camp enrolled in electives such as timbrels, dance or barbershop chorus. As well, students participated in one of three mixed choruses, led by Steve Armstrong, Jane Lam and Andrea Donais.
On Sunday evening, Majors Len and Heather Ballantine, corps officers, Yorkminster Citadel, Toronto, Ontario Central-East Division, led a celebration worship service conducted in English and Spanish. Two members of their congregation—both of whom recently arrived in Canada as refugees from Colombia—shared inspirational testimonies about how God had guided them to safety.
The morning Bible sessions were led by Major Jamie Braund, corps officer, London Citadel, Ontario Great Lakes Division. Focusing on the Book of Deuteronomy, the sessions featured a theme song written by Eric Himes entitled I Choose Life, based on Deuteronomy 30:19-20. Some of the topics explored included obedience to God, remembering God in prosperity, worship and holy living.
During the Monday evening session, Elizabeth Shepherd, a Juno-nominated recording artist, joined her parents at the camp and presented a short concert with her jazz trio musicians.
At the talent night on Tuesday, highlights included a solo cornet performance of the Carnival of Venice by Jonathan Elliotson, a stellar rendition of Blackbird by tuba soloist Jon Rowsell and Carly Annis’ witty vocal solo, The Alto’s Lament, which was also featured during the final program on Saturday evening.
On Wednesday, the mid-week program delivered accomplished performances by all the primary streams. The women’s chorus was alternately led by Jane Lam and Cathie Koehnen, the drama stream by Joe Caddy, the worship stream by Len Marshall and Valerie Moreton, the media stream by Tim Sharp, and three brass bands by Darren Hancock, Phil Rayment and Greg Colley. The evening was rounded out by “A” band, conducted by Canadian Staff Bandmaster John Lam, and “A” chorus, conducted by Cathie Koehnen.
Thursday evening provided opportunity for reflection. During the praise meeting, students and faculty were able to share their testimonies and participate in a time of prayer and recommitment.
The elective night on Friday featured ensembles and mixed choruses. With over 24 participating in timbrels, Donna Harris prepared a creative routine that would be repeated at the final program. The new hip-hop dance elective, led by Jill Phillips, proved popular, with the students’ performance also repeated on the Saturday evening.
During the final program, Joe Caddy’s well-rehearsed drama stream delivered one of the most amusing and memorable sketches in camp history. The highlight from the worship stream was Jesus is the Rock and He Rolls my Blues Away, punctuated by an energetic brass quartet who ignited a bit of dancing and celebration from the rest of the campers. In addition to presentations from the three brass bands, the “A” band performed Eric Ball’s classic 1967 tone poem Resurgam, an interpretive work depicting the physical death and heavenly resurrection of the believer. Also memorable were two Latin-sung chorus numbers, Cantate Domino by the women’s chorus and Salmo 150 by “A” chorus. Cadet Grace Kim added contrast to a couple of the chorus numbers by playing cello.
It was an inspirational week for campers and faculty. The fact that the camp is well attended year after year testifies to the spiritual transformation and meaningful purpose it provides. The National Music and Gospel Arts Camp is a week of encouragement, friendship, fellowship, fun and education, but primarily God-filled, God-directed energy, thanks in part to a praying faculty and a spiritually sensitive organizing committee.