The golden note | July 17, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - July 17, 2009

The golden note

Teens create music camp to earn top award in Scouting

by Chuck Herrmann

Three Monte Vista High School seniors ended up using one of their own interests - music - to reach the pinnacle of Scouting.

In order to earn their Girl Scout Gold Award, Nicole Cooper, Corinne Cooper and Rachel Sweet were looking for an idea that would bring young teens together and help spark their creative juices. They did a needs assessment for the community and realized there were not enough enrichment activities offered for young people who are interested in music and band.

The entrepreneurs, who are all musicians, came up with the idea of offering middle school students the opportunity to hone their musical skills at a camp designed specifically for them.

"We sat down and realized that there were plenty of camps for high school students, yet the middle schoolers didn't have as many opportunities. We wanted to give them a camp they could call their own," recalled Corinne.

The three, from Girl Scout Troop 30677, began the process of planning and developing such the camp for young teens who wanted a musical outlet and a chance to learn this summer.

And Camp Allegro was born.

"They set the whole camp up," said Leslie Vilhauer, the girl's troop leader. "The girls are the ones who deserve all of the credit."

They held their own interviews, set up all the meetings, and booked the multi-purpose room at Diablo Vista Middle School. They handed out fliers to middle schools in the area to advertise the weeklong camp in June, which cost $150. Camp Allegro was open to any middle school student who was interested in learning and playing music or being a part of an orchestra or band.

The three created the camp with an interesting twist: They brought in fellow high school musicians to act as counselors to teach and play music with the younger students. They hired Chavonta Edington, music teacher at Diablo Vista, to teach the sessions.

Nicole, Corinne and Rachel set up the camp to be fun and educational. Each musical camper had one-on-one time with a counselor, plus there were fun activities to introduce them to new and unexpected experiences. For instance, one day the campers had the chance to learn about the didgeridoo, the famous northern Australian aboriginal wind instrument.

"We wanted to create this camp because we have a passion for music, and we love the fact that we can use that passion to have kids learn music," said Corinne.

The camp had some workshops where the students went outside to play music, as well as marching band practice.

"This camp was such a wonderful thing," said Vilhauer.

This project of the three Girl Scouts provided a service for the community, taught the organizers a lot, and also earned them the prestigious Gold Award.

They are Camp Allegro, which ran one week from Monday through Friday, will continue in years to come. They hope other Scouts will take it over when they leave for college but if no one steps forward, the three founders will continue to run it each summer.

"These girls did an amazing thing for the community and set up a very well run, interactive and fun camp for everyone here," said Vilhauer.

The camp was the sixth step in the seven step Gold Award program for these three camp founders.

The weeklong camp of music and fun ended in a celebratory concert at the end of the week, with both counselors and campers performing.