Music brings campers together
It was a day of live music, games and entertainment at Camp Allen on a recent Sunday as campers, staff and the community attended its first music festival.
The June 23 program was an added bonus to an already-packed summer of doing arts and crafts, swimming and sing-alongs for this week’s campers, who listened and danced to live bands, played games, enjoyed a photo booth and a barbecue dinner on the camp property.
According to Camp Allen Director Mary Constance, the day was a first for the Bedford camp that hosts as many as 600 campers each season, all with special needs.
“Our campers love music,” Constance said.
The two bands on the schedule donated their time to perform their sets, and funding was provided through a grant by the New Hampshire Council on Disabilities, said Kate Scott, who organized the event.
“We wanted to give the campers a good show, and raise awareness for the camp,” Scott said of the event that was also open to the community. “It’s a great place.”
As Carla Dullard played a life-sized game of Connect Four with her camper, Ashley Scanlan, she described her weeks as a camp counselor as “pure bliss.”
“It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Dullard, who came to Bedford from her native Australia.
Volunteers from the Coalition for Bedford Youth also lent a hand at the event.
“If groups need hands-on help, we try to send as many people as we can,” said volunteer Bryce Nixon.
Scott said she hopes the festival will become an annual event, because music is a commonality that all campers share.
“When I hear a band, I feel it inside of me, and the campers do, too,” she said. “They don’t have any inhibitions – if the music is moving them, they’re moving.”
With campers arriving with an array of disabilities – some with autism, some with cerebral palsy, and some that are uncommunicative – music programs provides a venue that can connect all campers, Scott said.
“Music is a universal language,” she added. “It really brings people together.”