In collaboration with Harvest 365, each year The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF) hosts a two-week sleepaway choir camp. From the 2nd to 14th July, new and return campers between the ages of 12 to 18 came together at the Junyi School of Innovation. Unlike prior years where Disney films were chosen as themes, the 2019 select was Les Misérables. With only 13 days to practice their acts – some with limited chorale experience, ability to read and speak English, their achievements and confidence witnessed at the final concerts wowed all.
I am lovable and capable! Initiated in 2014, the Huatung Choir Camp celebrates its sixth consecutive year. Each year, Camp Director Howard Cheung reemphasizes the core value of the camp with the motto I am lovable and capable (IALAC). He believes that although the apparent focus of the camp is choir, it is more so a tool to nurture confidence, self-love, compassion, appreciation as well as communication and listening skills. Cheung hopes that through the camp, every participant’s level of IALAC will increase. Campers who were not strong communicators learned to express their best selves through the listeners.
New year, new challenge Since the 2016 camp, Cheung has added new elements to the camp each year – from recruiting burn survivors to individuals with autism and Asperger’s. At the beginning of each camp, participants sit together and discuss how to love, care and be compassionate of one another. This year, the camp increased its age group to welcoming youths in senior high. They were challenged to plan and execute a first-ever salon focusing on the history and laws of Les Misérables’ time. It encouraged discussion, critical thinking abilities; campers who tended to shy away from discussion learned to speak their minds.
The spirit of togetherness Several campers at the 2019 camp caught the flu. Even so, the campers kept to the spirit of togetherness and chose to stay. Through live streaming, they were able to participate in activities such as the famous talent show as well as the final concert where they watched from a separate classroom in Junyi. The doctor onsite monitored their conditions each day, and made ensured their conditions were stable.
Volunteer’s mark The planning each year for the Huatung Choir Camp begins in September. 50% of volunteers are return volunteers. The camp has a unique spirit, inclusion, and bond. In addition to choir singing, it offers elective classes for campers to explore their interests and potentials. This year, volunteers put together 71 elective classes ranging from French fashion, romanticism, sports, website design, manga, coffee beans, art therapy, and more.
Final concert The 2019 final concert was a great success. The performances took place at Junyi’s Wonderland Performing Arts Center where its state-of-the-art equipment enhanced the overall experience. Camp instructors formed a band and performed live alongside campers. Campers overcame the pressures of singing the full repertoire of Les Misérables and performed confidently on stage.
In Huatung Choir Camp’s first year, there were 60 campers and 20 volunteers. This year, there are nearly 250 campers and 70 volunteers. Each camper walks away from the camp knowing they can achieve so as long as they believe in themselves, so as long as they continue to practice IALAC.
Following the Huatung Choir Camp, Cheung and 20 volunteers traveled to Nantou, a remote area of Taiwan, to replicate the camp. This initiative is fully sponsored by the Harvest 365. One of ACF’s mission is to have its projects be carried out by others to help bring positive change in other communities in need.