Note to our audience:
Thanks to feedback from teachers, this school year we hope to occasionally publish Lessons of the Day that are more streamlined and accessible than usual. This is our second such lesson; you can find the first here. Let us know what you think.
Featured Article: “I Found Myself at Band Camp” by Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Josephine Sedgwick and Zachary Woolfe
In this lesson, you will learn all about band camps — places where young people go to share and develop their musical talents — and what makes them fun and special. Then you will dream of the perfect camp and share your ideas with your class.
Have you ever attended a camp of any kind? Did you like it? Hate it? What did you get from the experience?
Make two lists. On one, list at least three things that you liked about camp. On the other, list at least three things that you didn’t like.
If you have never gone to camp, answer these questions instead: Would you ever want to go to a camp? Why or why not?
After you finish writing, share your answers with a partner. If you made lists, are there any similarities?
Here are 10 words you’ll find in this article that you may not know:
1. score (as in a musical composition) 2. budding 3. self-discovery 4. transformation 5. immersion 6. competitive 7. precious 8. isolated 9. ensemble 10. conductor
Which words are you familiar with? Which are new to you?
Use this list of words and their definitions on Vocabulary.com to learn what each means and to practice using the words.
You might also come across several names of musicians and musical instruments while reading the article. Beethoven, Barber, Mendelssohn Mozart and Liszt are all classical music composers, and the clarinet, oboe and trombone are all musical instruments.
Questions for Writing and Discussion
1. Before you look at the photographs or read the article, what do you expect to see? What kinds of images do you think an article called “I Found Myself at Band Camp” will have? Why?
2. Next, read the article and click through all the photos. How many looked like what you predicted? What ideas did you have that were not in this slide show?
3. What do you think makes this band camp a special place? List or describe three things you see in the photos that might answer that question.
4. The article includes many quotes from young people who attend this camp. Which quotes grab your attention most and why?
5. The Times journalists write: “Summer is a time of exploration and self-discovery for all kinds of young people. But for budding musicians, band and orchestra camp can be especially transformative.” Have you ever had a powerful summer experience — in or out of camp — where you grew, changed or “found yourself”?
6. Would you want to go to this band camp? Why, or why not?
Option 1. Create a slide show about a summer experience — whether at camp or somewhere else.
The Times journalists created a slide show with photos and text to capture the joys of band camp. Now, it’s your turn! Choose a few photos from one of your camp or summer experiences and write one to three sentences about it. You might use your lists from the warm-up activity to help you brainstorm what to write.
What was fun or special about it? What kinds of activities did you do? What did you learn or get from the experience? What would have made it better?
Option 2. Imagine the perfect camp.
Cartooning? Dance? Video gaming? A week of hiking in the woods? What would your dream camp be?
What kinds of activities or theme would you want at your camp? Where would it be located? Would it be a day camp or sleep-away camp? What kinds of kids would it be best for? Why would it be the perfect camp for you?
Your plans might look like this:
My Perfect Camp:
The theme of my perfect camp would be video games.
It would be held for two weeks in the summer somewhere in the woods — but it would need fast internet so we could play our games online!
The camp would be for gamers but also any kid who wanted to learn more about video games.
Camp would end with a big tournament to see who was the best video game player.
It would be the perfect camp because I love video games but most adults say I play too much, so finally I would be in a place where everyone would get it and get me.