Have you ever been to a “Campference”?
We have! We have three of them every summer; A special 4-day residential program for young people, ages 16-24, living with cancer, HIV, or a rare genetic disorder. It’s four days when they can be in a community of their peers who understand what life is like living with a chronic illness.
A critical aspect of every Summer Campference is music.
Two of the highlights of the Summer Campferences are the “Music Jams” and “Stage Nite”. Music Jams allow anyone who wants to participate, to pick an instrument or choose to use their own voices; they each find what they want to share in their “spotlight moment” during Stage Nite. The young people and the music therapists work together to create some amazing music: original songs, cover songs, bands and instrumental acts. They also create some uniquely expressive art projects: poetry, short stories, we’ve even had a disney karaoke throwdown!
But it’s not all about jamming…
Attendees can also have a session with a music therapist, one-on-one. At every Next Step Summer Campference, a group of music therapists help our young participants, ages 16-24, find their “voice” through the process of writing an original work inspired by their personal story. It can be anything: a song, a poem, a rap, a drawing or a painting with their own personal message. These volunteers come from all over the Boston area; Mass General Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Lesley University, Tufts University, Berklee College of Music, Dana Farber, and others.
Every Summer Campference culminates at Stage Nite where the young people have the chance to share their finished product. They might take the stage solo, or ask their friends, staff or the music therapist to perform with them. It’s an evening of respect, support and inspiration as the whole community encourages everyone to be themselves and share their creativity and their story.
Thanks to all the music therapists—past and present—who have volunteered their time at our annual Summer Campference program. You are changing lives!