All Our Thanks!

In St. Luke’s Music Camp 2017, we explored music history & culture with Dr. Sarah Koenig; created art with Laura Mercadal; practiced mindfulness and movement with Dr. Renee Lee-Gardner; were led in song by Cindy Minkler; experienced stories told by Dr. Fritz MacDonald; participated in Orff sessions created Meghan Feeman, MT-BC; and learned choral repertoire representing various world cultures from Dr. Carrie Groenewold. Our love and gratitude to this entire team of lead teachers!

Special thanks to our parish administrator, Donna James; our facilities manager, Micheal Hueschen; our camp administrative assistant, Carly Meshew; and security lead and assistant building supervisor, Carl Hale. This core team did a thousand jobs and kept us all going.

Thanks to our team leaders and assistants for their huge donation of time and energy: Larry Hoekstra, Jan Tucker; John Tucker, Bill Sanderson, Tomio Anderson, Belinda Murray, Matt Pflederer, Emma Miller, Tobi Hanna-Davies, Avalyn Lund-Goldstein, Paula Presler, Sue Kaatz, Stacey Marquee-Flentje, Abbey Flentje, and Wally Clore. And to our snack coordinator Nancy Grib.

Thanks to our talented music therapy student assistants: Cindy Minkler, Taryn Chanisse Butler, and Siqi Li.

Thanks to Abby Cummings, Da’Bresha Aggers, and Danielle Snow for staffing our nursery; Frankie LeClear for delivering lunches each day; Ben Jamieson and Tomio Anderson for providing security; Katie Sydlik-Badgerow, Jon Dixon, Sarah Koenig, Sue Kaatz, Tobi Hanna-Davies, Caleb Flentje, Janice Burke, Belinda Murray, Laura Mercadal, YWCA interns Diamond, Wallace, & Rachael, and the whole wraparound care team for all the love, creativity, and time they offered.

And our gratitude goes out to the many, many other volunteers that made this week possible.

Thanks to Jennifer Sanderson for offering a beautiful art curriculum for the afternoon wraparound care, and her team of assistants – Stacey, Jada, and Vivian – for facilitating that curriculum and connecting deeply with each camper.

Our gratitude to the YWCA of Kalamazoo for their enormous offering of guidance, leadership, education, and support. We want to particularly thank Nichole Weststrate, director of the YWCA Children’s Center, who was instrumental to the success of this camp and who taught trauma mitigation to our entire team; Trina Jones, Child Advocate, who connected us with many camp families;  and both Beth Keith, lead GSRP teacher, and Shawna Janisse, Lead Toddler Teacher, who helped us build full day wraparound care from the ground up, directed that program this year, and offered countless hours of patient and loving support to our wraparound children and volunteers.

We are also immensely grateful to Marshall Music for providing an instrument petting zoo for the third year running; On Purpose Branding for producing and helping to fund camp t-shirts; Tammy Burns and the Arab American Society for the use of their oud; Rootead for teaching camp children about drumming, dancing, and community; The Montessori School for the generous loan of their entire collection of Orff instruments; and Bill Caskey, Kalamazoo Public Library Children’s Librarian, for offering a Musical Storytime to all campers, and for facilitating a partnership between St. Luke’s and KPL.

Thanks to Dr. Renee Maria Lee-Gardner, camp co-director, whose vision and hard work resulted in this exciting collaboration between St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the YWCA of Kalamazoo.

And thanks to Dr. Carrie Groenewold, camp co-director, who is passionate about community-wide music education.

Finally, our gratitude to the entire St. Luke’s community for coming together in service of this endeavor and putting “Spirituality in Action” into practice so brilliantly. And to each and every child for filling this space with energy, curiosity, openness, and love of music. It has been a joy to hear them raise their voices in harmony.


Our schedule changed on Friday to give us lots of time to sing and practice for the evening’s concert! But we did find time for two very special activities!

We were joined by a special guest: librarian Mr. Bill Caskey from the Kalamazoo Public Library, who led us through a musical storytime!









We were also visited for the third year running by folks from Marshall Music, who brought us an instrument petting zoo! The kids all got to learn about and try out brass, reed, and woodwind instruments!









And in Miss Jenny’s last wraparound care art afternoon, the littles artists looked at bugs under the magnifying glass and loupes, and drew them life size with India ink drawing pens. They drew and painted giant versions with markers and water tempera. They finished with story time on the shaded church steps!









The two older groups first had a drawing lesson on facial shape, proportion, and feature placement. They used mirrors and charcoal to start their self portrait and switched to pastels for skin tones, hair, eyes, lips and clothing. Artists were well engaged with checking their imagery, sharing colors, and appreciating the results. A nice finish to a very good week!



























And finally, here are some images from our wraparound afternoons all week! Our most heartfelt thanks to Beth and Shawna for teaching us how to do this work of community building! And thanks to the impossibly generous volunteers who shepherded the children – and all of us – through these deeply pleasurable days.


















Today we travelled to Israel, and learned the Hebrew word “Shalom.”

In Sarah’s Music History & Culture class, we learned that the people of Israel have been scattered all over the world like seeds. To stay connected, they use music to celebrate and to remember their history. We also learned that Israeli music uses instruments from all over the world because the Israeli people have lived all over the world.

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Thursday was the last day in the Orff room so the session focused on reviewing songs learned during the week, and fun games such as follow the leader and solos.  For follow the leader each child would play something on their instrument and everyone else in the group had to copy it.  For solos, each student would come up in front of the room and play a solo on the glockenspiel.

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Snack was especially delicious and Fritz was engaging as always!
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In Mindfulness & Movement, we prepared for the concert by talking about courage. We learned several breathing exercises to help generate focus and energy, as well as calm, and to help us feel brave. We were dragons, bees, snakes, elephants, and lions. We also learned (with each child’s permission) a small pressure-point exercise that helps generate calm.

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And in Laura’s art class, we carved Hamsa hands and then sculpted beautiful designs into the clay before it dried!

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Finally, in wraparound art class Jenny taught the youngest little artists to print hand trees. All hung together, they looked like a little apple orchard. The two older groups sang Jenny one of their songs for Friday’s 6pm program, had a drawing lesson, and then completed mixed media illustrations of a song they’re enjoying learning.







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Jet lagged yet? This morning, we traveled from West Africa to the Middle East, and learned the Arabic word for goodbye: ma’ al-salamah!



In our choral sessions today, the children learned “A Ram Sam Sam,” a children’s song and game that originated in Morocco. They learned the Arabic word rafiq, a friend, companion, or colleague. All of the children thoroughly enjoyed putting the actions with this song, and singing it as fast as they could! Carrie began teaching them Tafta Hindi, a song in Lebanese Arabic, depicting a cloth merchant traveling with previous hand-woven silks from India. We reviewed Mi Gallo from Monday’s sessions, and helped the preschoolers learn their special part, the rooster’s call: “cocorí, corí, cocorí, corá.”

In Laura’s art class, we learned about the practice of fasting for Ramadan, and we made Ramadan lanterns using carefully cut paper, colored tissue paper, and tiny tea light candles.

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Here are some images, too, of Meghan’s Orff Session! For the third day in this class, the younger kids learned “Obwisana” in parts, and the older kids learned how to play “Fanga Alafia” in parts.  The oldest group learned how to play the melody of “Fanga Alafia” and put it together in 4 parts.


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We also gathered for singing and rhythm work with Carrie.

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in Sarah’s Music History & Culture session, children learned about an instrument from Syria called the oud! We learned the parts of the oud, how many strings it has, and how Syrians use the oud to make music even in difficult times.

And of course we returned to everyone’s favorite storyteller, Fritz! Here we learned about Syrian refugees.

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Finally, in Mindfulness & Movement, we slowed down to experience each of our senses individually: we listened to Cindy’s beautiful flute, looked at and tasted strawberries, smelled flowers, and felt an eagle feather touch our arm.

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And in Jenny’s wraparound art class, campers made ‘Finger chalk’ to the music, then ideas for a painting to go with the music so far. One group had time to show their finished work and tell the stories they captured in tempera.


Whew! What an amazing second day this was. We travelled from Latin America to West Africa.

During Tuesday’s choral sessions, Sarah taught us how to say “hello” in Yoruba. The children all greeted each other using the new word for “hello.” They learned a new choral piece, Siyahamb’e, in Zulu. We added claps and marched to feel the syncopated rhythms. We reviewed the calypso “Children of the Soil” and “Fanga Alafia” from Monday’s sessions. Fanga Alafia is a traditional welcome dance in Yoruba. It uses a call-and-response format, so the children practiced the response, “ashe, ashe” following Carrie’s line. Each session closes with “See you later, goodbye” (composed by Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra) using the corresponding word for “goodbye” in the specified culture the children were experiencing that day. On Tuesday, we sang, “In Yoruba, Od’abo.”

Rootead came to teach our Mindfulness & Movement session, leading the children in drumming, dancing, and community!

Fritz read children talking drum rhythms during snack time!

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In Laura’s art class, the children made djembes to take home! They learned about the drum’s history, then stretched balloons over containers to make the drum itself, and painted it to make it their own.

For the second day in the Orff room, the younger kids learned to play and stop as a group and learned to find notes on their instrument to play short melodies.  The older groups learned how to play along to the song “Obwisana” (from Ghana) with different parts.

They also gathered for singing with Carrie.

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And in Sarah’s Music History & Culture session, we learned that for the Yoruba people of Nigeria, drums can “talk.” Yoruba people use different drum sounds to communicate with one another. We learned about what some of the different sounds mean, and we learned how to make different sounds with our bodies by clapping our hands and stomping our feet.


Here are some images from this day’s closing choral session! We can hardly believe how well they already know these songs!

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We are also thrilled to show you photographs from Jenny’s wraparound care art class Tuesday afternoon! This was the first day they were able to create outside in our courtyard!

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Monday was a great first day of camp!

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Each day, the choral sessions began with some stretching, breathing, and fun vocal exercises—like making a siren with your voice and hissing like a snake—followed by a centering piece, “I’m going to tap peace.” Composed by Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra, this piece helped us focus and calm our thoughts by tapping on alternate sides of our bodies while we sang. Research by psychologist Francine Shapiro has shown that alternate left and right tapping integrates both hemispheres of the brain to help process and release fear and anxiety. Later this week our accompanist and assistant choral educator Cindy Minkler will bring her cedar flute to accompany us while we sing “I’m going to tap peace.”

Here are some images from Monday’s opening session!

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The breakout sessions are also all going well! Each team travels from session to session with between 7 and 12 children. This small, consistent group structure allows children to connect closely with similarly aged campers, and to encounter each session with great focus.

Here are kids with music therapist Meghan in the Orff instrument room! For the first day in the orff room, the children got to learn about the different orff instruments: glockenspiel, xylophone, and metallophone.  They also learned the different instrument parts: bass, alto, soprano.  Finally we all learned how to play our the instruments to get the best sound.

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And here they are learning the songs and doing rhythm work with Carrie and Cindy! Ask them to teach you the goodbye song!


Also, ask your children about flower breathing, and about moving slowly, silently (except for the sound of fingertips tapping balloon skin), and in concert with their teammates to keep balloons in the air in Mindfulness & Movement! It took such deep concentration and they were amazing!

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And they made worry dolls yesterday! Have them tell you about the ones they brought home! Here they are with Laura, who teaches our art sessions. Our thanks to the knitters in our world, who sent us a gorgeous array of yarn for this project.

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Here they are hearing Drum Dream Girl and From North to South or Del Norte al Sur as read by our storyteller, Fritz!


And here’s a look at Sarah’s Music History & Culture class! We learned about the music of Mexico, which mixes instruments and music styles from Europe, West Africa, and the Americas. We learned about a kind of Mexican song called a “corrido,” which is a song that tells a story. Then we worked together to write our own corridos!


Art Classes During Wraparound Care!

We are thrilled to announce that during each afternoon of Music Camp, local artist and art teacher Jenny Sanderson will teach three sections of art classes for wraparound campers! Each session will include music references from that morning’s lessons, as well as structured time for drawing, watercolor, printmaking, tempera painting, mixed media, and self portraits.

Jenny is a Kalamazoo native, and a graduate of Kalamazoo College with dual majors in Art and French. Her MEd is from West Chester University.  She has taught in public and private schools, preschool, and day camps, and at a residential camp in Maine. She enjoyed a long career as Art Department Chair at a boys’ private boarding school near Philadelphia.  After returning to Kalamazoo, she spent five years teaching art to local children and adults from her home studio on Westnedge Hill.

Jenny is a potter and a calligrapher.  Her work can be seen in use at St. Luke’s.  Miss Jenny is looking forward to spending camp afternoons with our young artists!

All our thanks to Jenny for this beautiful offering!

Introducing the 2017 Music Camp Staff!

It is with great pleasure that we announce this year’s wonderfully talented, experienced, and creative camp leadership!

Dr. Sarah Koenig will teach our music history sessions. Sarah is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Religion Department at Kalamazoo College, where she teaches courses that focus on the many religious communities that reside in the Americas. She earned her joint Ph.D. in History and Religious Studies from Yale University in 2015, her Master’s degree in Liturgical Studies from Yale Divinity School/Yale School of Sacred Music, and her B.A. in Music from Trinity Western University. Prior to her graduate studies, Dr. Koenig served as a teacher’s aide in special education classrooms in her home state of Oregon. She has also worked as a singer and section leader in various choirs and as a choral accompanist. Dr. Koenig loves to introduce students to new cultures using music and is excited to be teaching at St. Luke’s Summer Music Camp for the first time!


Our choral and singing sessions will be accompanied and assisted by Cindy Minkler (Lakota). Cindy graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a B.A. in Music Education and Piano Performance.  Since then, she’s been an educator, graduation speaker, free lance pianist, piano teacher, and performer.  Back in the 90’s, Minkler was seen on the hit dramedy television show “Northern Exposure.”  In 2003 she was invited to perform at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, where she featured her original composition, “Battle of Wounded Knee.”  Minkler performed and won an award at the West Coast American Indian Music Awards Show in 2006.  She is currently enrolled at Western Michigan University pursuing a degree in Music Therapy.

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Meghan Feeman will teach our Orff sessions. Meghan is originally from Indianapolis and went to Western Michigan University to receive her bachelor’s degree in music therapy. At Western, Meghan studied voice for two years. She also enjoys playing guitar and the piano, and she just took a world percussion class. Meghan is a board-certified music therapist and worked in Indianapolis over a year doing music therapy with children with developmental disabilities. Meghan is currently working on her masters in music therapy at Western Michigan University. Her interests include music, hiking, camping, and riding her bike. She is very excited to a part of St. Luke’s Music Camp!


Laura Mercadal will lead our art sessions. Laura is a gifted elementary school teacher and mother of four. She loves to create and have fun with her family. When she asked her kids to help her with this bio – which she graciously wrote from a tent while her family was camping! – they suggested she let us know that she is kind, loves nature, likes to read, and appreciates peace and quiet (which music camp will not be!). She also has an incredible line-up of art projects in store for our campers!


Carly Meshew is this year’s Music Camp Administrative Assistant. After graduating from Michigan State University in 2014, she moved to Prague, Czech Republic, where she taught first grade at an International School. That’s where she found her love for education: specifically cultural awareness and the arts. Her classroom was full of students from over fourteen different countries, and whether she was teaching math or music, the day was focused on cultural sensitivity and understanding. She has lived in Kalamazoo for the last year with her fiancé, Ryan, and their cat, Gordie Meow. If you see her running around Camp handing out name tags and snacks, give her a high five. She loves high fives!


Our music intern for the second year running will be Taryn Chanisse Butler. Taryn is from Benton Harbor, MI, and is a fourth year student at Western Michigan University, majoring in Music Therapy with a General Business minor. She is a Student Ambassador for Western’s campus and has been actively involved with the First Year Experience program, Gospel Choir, and the Student Music Therapy Association. We are thrilled to have Taryn back with us.


And as always, camp directors are Drs. Carrie Groenewold and Renee Maria Lee-Gardner.

Carrie currently serves as the Minister of Music (organist/choirmaster) at St. Luke’s, where she directs our thriving music program. She earned a D.M.A. in Church Music from the University of Kansas, where she studied organ, choral conducting, and harpsichord with Michael Bauer. She earned a Master of Sacred Music degree from the University of Notre Dame. She is an active performer in Kalamazoo’s Annual Bach Festival, and recently participated as a choral conductor in the Bach Community Sing at Kalamazoo College. Carrie has also been a featured organist on the NPR program PipeDreams. In addition to partnering with Renee in the creation and administration of the camp, Carrie will teach and direct the choral sessions and final recital.


Renee earned a PhD in English from Western Michigan University, where she specialized in modern and contemporary literature, American culture, and vulnerability studies. Her previous education includes a Master’s degree in Literature from the College of Charleston, a B.A. in Psychology from Purdue University, and eight years in military intelligence. She left academia for ministry in 2015, taking the position of Formation Minister at St. Luke’s, where she creates religious education offerings for children, youth, and adults; serves alongside local social justice organizations; and works to connect St. Luke’s resources to the needs of this community and the mission of community building itself. In addition to partnering with Carrie in the creation and administration of the camp, Renee will lead our mindfulness & movement sessions. And her youngest is over the moon to finally be old enough to attend music camp!


Additionally, we are thrilled to announce that Kama Tai Mitchell of Rootead will lead sessions on the Tuesday of camp week! We are inspired by the profound and critical work Rooted offers this community, and we’re delighted to learn from and make music alongside them next week!



St. Luke’s Music Camp 2017

Now entering its third year, our 2017 St. Luke’s Music Camp will presents music in a way that is rich and diverse, allowing children to learn about music history, culture, and composition, and letting them develop their own creative expression through song, art, and mindfulness. For the first time in 2017, it will include a trauma-informed curriculum and a wrap-around program before and after the music sessions to make it accessible for families whose children might most benefit.

In Music Camp – which is not religious and is entirely free of Christian doctrine and practice – children sing, learn about some of the great composers and periods of music history, and explore the history and culture of various parts of the globe. Campers develop rhythmic ability on Orff instruments and are introduced to basic concepts in music theory. They become more aware of themselves, their communities, and the music at hand by participating in various art and mindfulness projects.

As part of this community venture, local musicians present lessons on various topics related to the curriculum. In this year’s program of World Music, we will explore the music of Israel, the Middle East, Western Africa, and Latin America. Accountability partners for all of those cultures will be consulted to review and help build the curriculum, gauge its responsibility, and provide cultural context for the musical lessons being taught.

In an era in which we are increasingly encouraged to set ourselves apart from others, it will be of immeasurable benefit to help campers understand the common threads that unite us with our brothers and sisters around the world regardless of time, distance, and language and cultural barriers.

Click to follow this site for more information about this year’s camp!