It's all about singing and having fun. The Far Western District is dedicated to encourage young men and women to discover the thrill of singing your best, and sharing that experience with friends. This website contains information on a variety of opportunities to develop your singing skills, information for music educators on how we can help you enhance your programs, and opportunities for our members to provide resources in their local communities.
Take 80 high school age boys, a top notch team of instructors, a dedicated group of counselors and support staff, a weekend at a camp site in the Sierra Foothills and throw them all together with the best music on the face of the earth, Barbershop Harmony, and stand back - it's late September and time for the Northern California Youth Harmony Camp!
This introduction, written by the Dean of Harmony Camp, Gary Bolles, sets forth in a small way, the magic those attending Youth Harmony Camp experience. Gary's comments are completely true however - we simply put all these ingredients together and with the combined talent of the dedicated guys who volunteer their time and energy truly magical things happen during the weekend.
However there is so much more that needs to be communicated. At FWD Harmony Camp we focus on fundamentals: the fundamentals of vocal singing, proper breathing, posture and basics. Over the weekend the boys experience living in the wonderful environment of barbershop harmony through their learning of four or five songs, learning and singing tags, and participation in the totally positive culture of barbershop.
An increased emphasis in the Society on musical excellence is fine. We all enjoy and appreciate the fantastic performances of Westminster, Vocal Majority, and Masters of Harmony. I, however, believe other things are important as well. There are ways of teaching, ways of performing, and ways of approaching barbershop (and the arts) that are not based on just that "gold medal" or "first place." The philosophical underpinnings of the FWD Youth Harmony Camp are exhibit #1 for this kind of approach.
At the FWD Youth Harmony Camp we do not focus on the Sunday morning show. I'll say that again, we do not put a lot of our energies into preparation for the Sunday morning show. We do present a one-hour show Sunday morning for parents and friends. Costumes and props are not used. The boys simply sing and have fun showing parents and friends what they have experienced and learned in their intensive weekend experience of being "hot dipped" in barbershop.
Gary continues to emphasize that the FWD Youth Harmony Camp is different from all the other Camps around the country; but since I've only been involved with the FWD Camp, I cannot relay firsthand the excitement that he and others who have seen and experienced other Camps have told us. What I can tell you is our focus on the basics does lead to Barbershoppers for Life. Our focus on the basics does provide the boys with tools to use in their school programs and in their life, and co-incidentally to an awesome Sunday morning show.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say; and Marty Lovick, a presentation judge from Evergreen, and one of our top clinicians this year commented during one of the last songs of the show that in his "professional judging" opinion, the boys' chorus just sang at a very high level. My, my, imagine that: teaching fundamentals results in high level "fun" performances.
Which brings me to Camp 2008 where Late Show just wowed the boys with their inimitable sound and interpretation of songs. All four, Raymond, Jordan, Michael and Gabe each contributed to the tags, the teaching and the overall fun of Camp with spectacular success in terms of getting the boys "hooked" on barbershop harmony! And to add even more to the barbershop way of life, there was our own Epic, the collegiate quartet from Sacramento State who sang in Nashville with a wonderful showing of thirteenth in a very strong field. The Epic guys really connected with the boys in ways that us old guys just can't.
In going over the great "goings on" of Late Show and Epic, I am reminded of the spectacular line up of quartets that we have been privileged to feature at Camp, including Metropolis, Q, Men In Black, Men-So-Forte, The Crush, and Realtime. At least five District champion quartets and one International Champion! Wow!
A note regarding next year: Realtime, our headliner quartet in 2007 volunteered to return as our headliner quartet in 2009 and we readily accepted their offer. The magic they brought to Harmony Camp 2007 remains vivid in my memory and I am certain in the memories of those boys and volunteers who attended Camp that year.
Youth Harmony Camp creates Barbershoppers For Life. This is a positive fact that has been proven over and over. And what better way to guide our young men into a positive, fulfilling hobby (or more) that will remain with and provide a guidepost throughout their lives.
I welcome your inquiries and comments regarding Youth Harmony Camp. If you would like additional information or would like me to visit your chapter to discuss Harmony Camp you may reach me at (530) 621-1904 or email.
The young men truly appreciate and benefit from the support provided by so many FWD Chapters and so many of you individually.
Information and forms for Harmony Camp 2015
These forms can be saved and filled out on your computer with Adobe Reader, then printed, signed and mailed as listed on the form.
The Lloyd Steinkamp Endowment Fund for Far Western District Harmony Camps has been established at the Sacramento Region Community Foundation to provide support for FWD Harmony Camps. The Lloyd Steinkamp Endowment fund, honoring Lloyd's vision and creativity in introducing young men to barbershop harmony, is designed to create an earnings stream that will sustain the harmony camp program in future generations. Our initial goal over the next three years is to raise $200,000.
For more information, please download the following documents: