It was supposed to be the second annual Jazz From The Start youth jazz camp for District 36 students, sponsored by White Rock Traditional Jazz Society and hosted by Johnston Heights Secondary School.
“At least, that’s how it started out,” said the society’s Dave Roper, adding that the continuing teachers strike/lock-out situation created all kinds of uncertainty about whether there would be a camp at all.
The good news is that the Jazz From The Start camp went ahead last week, if not as planned.
While still sponsored by WRTJS, it wound up being open to all students in Grades 8-12 and hosted by the Legacy Church of the Nazarene in Guildford.
The change had a financial impact on the society, Roper said.
If it had been held at the school, the total cost to WRTJS would have been around $300 for janitorial and custodial services. Instead, the society made a donation of $1,000 for five days’ use of the premises and an evening concert performance on Friday.
“Because of the extra costs we had to make reductions in our expenditure,” Roper said.
“There were no camp T-shirts, only limited snacks for students and no $50 prizes for the top eight students.”
There were only six paid workshop teachers, including trumpeter Bonnie Northgraves, bassist Jennifer Hodge, guitarist Ron Thompson, reedman Bob Storms and drummer Craig Scott, while camp organizer Keith Honeywell and fellow teacher Garry Raddysh from Chilliwack donated their time.
“Every day Garry drove all the way from Chilliwack, bringing three students with him to attend the camp,” said Roper.
“The church helped us by allowing us to use their grand piano, a complete drum kit, and a Lowrey Key Board,” he added.
“Long and McQuaid helped us out with the loan of extra keyboards and drum sets, and the teachers supplied extra keyboards wherever they could.
“Our biggest problem was the waiting to see if the strike would be settled in time. When it became obvious that there was not going to be a settlement, we had two weeks to find an alternative accommodation. It was nip and tuck as to whether we should cancel or not. Fortunately, the parents and students believed in us and all of the 42 students turned up, we only had one cancellation; such was the enthusiasm for the camp.”
Roper also gave full credit to the church for their “generosity and kindness.”
“The pastor gave up his office and boardroom, and he also moved his own furniture so we could use the total space,” he said.
“We needed six independent locations (classrooms) on site. They also gave us the use of another boardroom downstairs and a large presentation room. We had to use an outside patio for one of the classrooms, and the ‘meet and greet’ area outside the auditorium for another.”
At the end of the day, the camp was all about the kids, he said.
“It was a great success with the teachers providing all the necessary skills and enthusiasm.”