Fun, Musical Experience Also Focuses on Social Skills and Independence
Campers celebrate music by participating in a songwriting workshop, recording session, songwriter's night, and a live performance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Campers are invited to take part in research activities.
Two key elements to camp participation are independence and flexibility:
We promote independence at many times throughout each day. We do so by expecting campers to wake on their own, shower, and get breakfast independently (food is provided in a common kitchen.) We make shower schedules so campers are assigned to shower in the morning or evening. Counselors do not assist campers with hair, makeup, or clothing selection. We load 12-15 passenger vans, expecting campers to be able to climb in and out of vans.
Campers need to follow instructions given by counselors, particularly as it relates to getting from one place to another on time. Campers should be flexible to schedule changes, interacting with new people, and taking direction from different adults. Specific meals are ordered each day, and accommodations cannot be made if the camper does not like the meal. Rehearsal typically involves participating in a group performance, singing on cue, and following instructions from the music director.
ACM Music Camp Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I sign my child up for the Music Camp?
A: There is an application process for the Camp, which involves a $25 application fee. We have a limited number of slots available. Applying for Camp does not guarantee you a slot. To receive notifications about the next camp opportunity, sign up here. Once you sign up, you will be on the list to receive the online application when it is available. Typically, applications are accepted in January, and notifications as to whether or not you are accepted to camp go out in February. So if you are signing up on the list after January, then your next opportunity to apply will be for the following year’s camp (e.g., if you sign up in March 2015, you will receive notifications about the 2016 camp.)
Q: Does my child meet the criteria for attending the Camp?
A: Criteria are:
- Diagnosed with Williams Syndrome
- Minimum age: 16 years--No maximum age
- Verbal and able to respond to directions
- Possesses musical ability
° Campers will be expected to participate in the rehearsals and to sing at rehearsal, the recording studio, and on stage, regardless of their singing “talent” so they need to be comfortable and willing to sing, even if they don’t necessarily excel at singing.
° Audition tapes or other forms of documentation are NOT necessary.
- Able to stay away from home for a week and able to learn and socialize well with other teens and adults with Williams Syndrome
- Needs to be relatively independent with no aggressive behaviors or wandering away
Q: Who are the celebrities involved with the camp?
A: Country music professionals from Music City may share their talents and help guide activities during certain points during the week to help mentor young budding musicians with Williams Syndrome. The participating country songwriters, musicians and singers will be a surprise that week, since the primary focus of this music camp is to promote friendship and camaraderie between campers, even after they leave camp. We want the focus to be on the special bond that campers forge during this amazing week of music camp.
Q: My child would only be able to attend some of the dates of camp. Is that ok?
A: No. Your child would need to be at the camp by the morning of the first day and stay through the morning the day after the Opry performance.
Q: When are applications available?
A: January of each year.
How much does the Camp cost?
A: The tuition is $1,500. That includes room, meals, and all field trips. Please note that families incur the additional cost of transporting their child to Nashville. The Opry performance is on a Tuesday but the campers don’t leave until Wednesday. Campers must remain in the dorm until Wednesday and parents cannot stay in the dorm with their child. Therefore if the parents come to town to see the performance, they will incur lodging, meal, and transport expenses. Additionally, families must pay for their ticket to the Opry performance, which costs ~$40-$55/person.
Q: What if we cannot afford the tuition?
A: Need-based scholarships are available to those who qualify. These scholarships are for tuition only. Each family is responsible for the additional expenses mentioned above. Scholarships are based on the following criteria:
|Annual Family Income ||Scholarship Level||Amount you will owe|
|Less than or equal to $25,000/year ||Full tuition scholarship||$0|
|Between $25,001 and $50,000/year ||75% tuition scholarship||$375|
|Between $50,001 and $75,000/year ||50% tuition scholarship||$750|
|Between $75,001 and $100,000/year ||25% tuition scholarship||$1125|
Supporting documentation, typically the previous year’s tax return, is required for the scholarship application. If the parent/caregiver claims their child as a dependent on their tax return, then we require the parent's tax return. If the child is not claimed by the parents, then we require documentation that indicates the camper's annual income.
Q: What are the Camp primary activities?
A: Campers write a song with a professional songwriter, record the song in a studio with a recording artist, participate in jam sessions, go on field trips to music-related venues in Nashville, share meals together, participate in research (on a voluntary basis), and perform on the Grand Ole Opry.
Q: What kind of musical training is given?
A: Campers do not receive musical training or instruction (outside of practicing the song they write) during camp. Campers do not play instruments everyday.
Q: Can I visit my child during Camp?
A: One of the goals of the Camp is to promote independent living skills. In order to work towards that goal, we ask that parents let their children enjoy the Camp experience on their own. Parents are welcome at the Grand Ole Opry performance and are notified when tickets are available for purchase.
Q: What is the camper/counselor ratio?
A: The Camp has 1 counselor for every 3 campers.
Q: Is the staff support sufficient for my child?
A: Camp is an exciting experience. Campers should be independent and need little help with daily activities, such as dressing and self-care. They should be able to participate in group activities with little redirection. Campers who are easily overstimulated, have difficulty being in close contact with others for 10-12 hours a day, and need to be separated from a group to calm down will have a difficult time keeping up with the pace of this residential camp. Campers need to be able to communicate their needs to staff through appropriate verbal means.
Q: What will the campers’ residential experience be like?
A: The campers stay at a dormitory on the Vanderbilt University campus. Only Camp staff, University staff, and campers have access to the dorm. Because the dorms are on an access card system, people have to get special permission in order to get an access card and get into the building. Campers each have their own room. There is a kitchen in the dorm where campers prepare breakfast every morning. Counselors are on the same floor as the campers.
Q: What are the expectations of campers/families?
A: Accepted families are asked to sign and follow the below codes of conduct.
Q: Do I have to participate in research?
A: No, you don’t have to participate in any of it or you can select which research projects you wish to be a part of.
Q: What is research like?
A: Research activities take place during down times (such as in the morning, during rehearsal, or during breaks) so that campers do not miss out on any of the camp activities. Some research projects are done as a group and some are done individually. During research, campers will be asked to answer questions, watch videos, listen to music and musical sounds, and participate in group interventions. Additional research activities might include EEGs and fMRIs. Parents will also be asked to complete questionnaires about their child and family. Research activities could take up to 2 hours of camp time in the entire week.
Q: Do I have to participate in an MRI?
A: No, you may opt to participate in that research study but that is not a requirement to coming to camp.
Q: What is a typical day like?
- 7:00-8:00 am breakfast
- 8:00-9:00 am cleanup/shower
- 9:00 am load vans
- 9:30 am-12:00 pm rehearsal
- 12:00-12:30 pm lunch
- 12:30 pm load vans
- 1:00-3:30 pm rest time
- 3:30 load vans
- 4:00-7:00 pm off-campus activity
- 7:00 pm load vans
- 7:30 pm fireside chat
- 9:00 pm bedtime
For potential counselors:
If you wish to learn more about what it's like to be a counselor, please click here. If you are interested in applying for a camp counselor position, please complete this form. Applications are typically available mid-March of each year, and staffing is finalized in April. So if you are signing up on the list after March, then your next opportunity to apply will be for the following year’s camp (e.g., if you sign up in April 2015, you will receive notifications about the 2016 camp).
For other camp opportunities, see these websites:
Next Steps at Vanderbilt Summer Institute
Tennessee Disability Pathfinder (you can search the database in the category "camps and/or summer programs")