THREE weeks and 16 lessons, that’s what it took for Food For The Poor(FFP) Jamaica’s Annual Summer Band Camp programme to transform 50 students from musical novices to trained musicians, after playing instruments of their choice.
The participants were trained to use drums, saxophones, flutes, trumpets, clarinets and trombones between July 18 and August 11 at the summer band camp, which was held at FFP’s headquarters in Ellerslie Pen, St Catherine.
David Mair, executive director at FFP, said the band camp, which is in its eighth year, was an important initiative for the charity organisation.
“The annual band camp is a very special aspect of our ministry here at Food For The Poor and one that is anticipated by both the participants and FFP staff. Music unifies us so every year we look forward to hosting the children and celebrating with them during their graduation,” said Mair.
He added: “Another amazing aspect of this programme, which we fully endorse, is the fact that past students actually return to assist and they also serve as an inspiration to the new crop of students.”
Attendees at the awards ceremony, which included several proud parents, were treated to multiple music pieces which the participants learnt over the three weeks. One proud parent, Sharonette Walker, whose son Nathan has been participating in the camp for two consecutive years, sang nothing but praises for the musical programme.
“For the past two years, I have been assisting with the programme in terms of monitoring the students. It has been an inspiring journey because you see the growth these students experience and how much they love what they do,” she stated.
During the graduation ceremony held on August 11, the participants were filled with much excitement upon receiving the news that they would be awarded with the instruments they used during the camp.
Band campers Christeena Henry and Daniel Myers expressed gratitude to band camp organiser and administrator for the prison ministry department, Sandra Ramsay, as well as music instructor Jeffrey Brown.
“We couldn’t have done this in three weeks without the dedication of Mrs Ramsey and Mr Brown. They constantly pushed us to be better even when we didn’t see it for ourselves,” they said.
Ramsey announced that on the last Saturday of each month, the 50 youngsters can return to the grounds of Food For The Poor to practice and better develop their musical talents and skills. They will also be given the opportunity to learn other musical instruments.
This year, Food For The Poor’s Summer Band Camp hosted students between six and 16 years of age. Since the programme started eight years ago, more than 200 participants have been trained.