For one week each summer, Lake Crescent fills with the sounds of young musicians jamming to their heart’s content.
Camp Heebie Jeebies, designed for musicians ages 12-18 to receive training and support from top instrumentalists, takes as many as 75 students July 6-12 at Camp David Jr.
However, camp coordinator Bud Critchfield said the opportunity for many students may be going away.
He said an endowment from the Jazz in the Olympics Society, which dissolved three years ago, ran out of funds this year. That endowment offsets the $575 camp price for the students — including as many as 40 attendees from Sequim and Port Angeles.
Critchfield said he’s been gathering donations from various clubs and service organizations and that he hopes to continue to help as many students as possible.
“The best I can hope for this late is for individual donations,” Critchfield said.
“Most of the support has come from individuals,” he said. “We’re grateful for that. Some of them have been $20 to $25 and some have given us full tuition. We’ve been working hard at this but it’s been tough going.”
Camp Heebie Jeebies, named after the Louis Armstrong song “Heebie Jeebies,” started in 1995 in Montana. Eight years ago it moved to the peninsula after a majority of attendees came from this side of the Cascades, Critchfield said.
Camp activities include big bands, Dixieland combos, music theory, instrumental instruction, performance and more.
Sanford Feibus, instructor at the camp for eight years, said seeing the results after one week are amazing.
“Kids go through same routine whole year-round but they meet kids from other towns and the instructors are marvelous,” he said. “It seems to motivate some of them for the rest of the year. It’s a shot in the arm to the local music program.”
Due to health issues, Feibus is taking a year off from the program but said the students’ enthusiasm is contagious.
“We set the bar pretty high to accomplish their goals in a week and they usually do it,” he said.
Craig Buhler, who has taught at the camp since 2009 mostly in the saxophone master class, said he’s seen several veteran campers blossom.
Students work in small and large groups and groupings tackle challenges appropriate to the abilities of the group members, Buhler said, so everybody can shine and no one need feel intimidated.
“I have thrilled to see young people grow in confidence, communication skills, organizational ability and spontaneity,” Buhler said. “Anyone attending Camp Heebie Jeebies will come away from the five days richer for the experience.”
Trumpet player Robert Ossem “Awesome Bob” Hagan said he’s witnessed some miracles at the camp.
“The concerts at the end of the program have tight knit, united groups of young adults who love and respect each other and love working together for common goals,” he said. “Each person has been inspired to achieve their ‘personal best’ and taught to keep improving it as they rejoice in their accomplishments so far. Who wouldn’t want that for the youth of today?”
Admission is still open and donations to the camp are tax deductible.
For more information, call Critchfield at 582-3082, visit campheebiejeebies.us or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.