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Getting the ‘Heebie Jeebies’

For seven days starting July 6, 68 youths will live, breathe and dream jazz music.

The students will be attending Camp Heebie Jeebies, a jazz music camp named after Louis Armstrong’s first big hit, at Camp David Jr. on Lake Crescent. Ten of the attendees are from Sequim — Andrew Law, Kate Campen, Marley Iredale, Stevie Holloway, Benjamin Spray, Jon Bash, Alex Bullock, Brianna Krumpe, Amy Oppfelt and Kaitlin McDougal.

The camp originated at western Montana’s Seeley Lake but, according to Jazz in the Olympics youth program coordinator Bud Critchfield, it was moved to the peninsula last year for the first time.

“They work hard and they get a lot of instruction,” Critchfield said of the camp, which provides a week of intense lessons in traditional and big band jazz music. When planning for the camp last year, Critchfield and the other members of the peninsula’s Jazz in the Olympics Society worried that the $500 fee would discourage many talented young musicians from attending. To offset the cost, the group teamed up and began asking for donations this past September — and raised enough money to sponsor 35 students from Sequim and Port Angeles.

“We got a lot of generous donations,” Critchfield said. “This is such a great thing for these kids.”

The camp also provides performing experience for the Olympic Dixielanders,

JITOS’ youth band consisting of middle-schoolers. According to Critchfield, the professional faculty members, many of whom will make the journey from Montana, will put on a performance each night and the Dixielanders are featured one night.

For Critchfield that night will be especially bittersweet — after coaching the youth band for seven years, he recently handed over the reins to experienced teacher Signe Crawford.

“It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of gratification,” Critchfield said. “It’s hard, but it’s time to hand it over to someone else.”

Camp faculty and organizers encourage the public to come to the camp west of Port Angeles and hear the children perform each night around 7 p.m. Critchfield, for one, said it is like watching a professional concert.

“These youngsters are good musicians; they’re very, very good,” he said. “We are proud of the fact that we are sponsoring 35 of them.”

For more information about Camp Heebie Jeebies, visit http://campheebiejeebies.us/.

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