Actually, I feel a little bad about that title. The Boy plays the tuba, and though he can “oompa” with the best of them, he can also produce lovely, melting sounds that you feel in your bones. And in another week or so he’ll be making those sounds up at Brass Camp.
Last year we sort of stumbled through Brass Camp. This year, though, we’re old pro’s. It’s going to go a lot better (though it went great last year). I thought that, me being an old experienced Brass Camp mom this year, I’d write the post that I wish I’d seen last year for all the Brass Camp newbies who are where were just twelve short months ago.
1. Camp is held at Wallowa Lake. That’s high in the mountains–in an alpine climate. Nights and mornings are cold. Days can get warm enough for shorts. Pack for your child with that in mind. Layers work well–they can bundle up in the mornings, and shed clothing as the day warms. Be sure to include a waterproof (or resistant) jacket and plenty of warm socks.
2. The camp is well-run. Kids are kept busy, but there are activities and free time each afternoon. The Wallowa Lake Resort is an old one, with a number of the traditional “resort” amusements–horses and bikes to rent and ride, miniature golf, go-carts, and a little store that sells snacks (at grossly inflated prices). The camp also offers a selection of souvenir items that campers can buy. Last year I sent my camper with about $75 (the amusements are fun, but not cheap).
3. If you’re sending a gamer, consider letting them take along their favorite hand-held gaming device. There’s free time, and many of the games can be played by two or more people–it can be a way of making friends. Also, some of those little suckers take pretty good pictures. My son wished he’d had his, if only for that reason.
4. If your camper (or you) is going to need direct communication during the week, consider buying and sending along a pre-paid cell phone (or a regular one). While the camp does have a telephone and can receive emergency calls, that doesn’t cut it when homesickness strikes.
5. Speaking of which: If you’re concerned about how your camper might do that critical first night, consider getting a room at the resort, or in Joseph (which is just down the road). It’s a bit spendy, but it’s a lovely area, and it might help to bridge the gap.
6. Consider taking a few days to explore the area. There’s a fair amount of historic stuff there–Chief Joseph is buried in a small cemetery just beside the highway, for one thing. The lake is lovely and peaceful, too. And the fishing’s not bad, I’m told.
7. The last day there’s a barbecue, for which parents can pay. I suggest you do so–it’s fun, and it gives your kid a chance to sort of transition from camp. There’s also a concert. It’s about 45 minutes from camp to the concert hall, but it’s headed back toward civilization, so it’s all good. The concert is amazing–be sure you bring along some sort of recording device. I wish I had last year, and I’m definitely planning to this year.
That’s it for the moment–if I think of anything else I’ll add it in. Oh, one last thing: Brass Camp is an amazing opportunity. It not only will improve your kid’s music skills, it’ll open his or her eyes to a world of music that it’s difficult to find otherwise.