Written by Patrick Mainieri

The 2023 Music for All Summer Symposium is off to an incredible start! Camp has launched with the two-day Leadership Weekend, focused on better leadership and smarter followership. Throughout each moment of the weekend, campers are challenged to “be better” and “do better” – stepping outside of their comfort zones and learning from each other.

As the Director of Participant Experience, I have a unique opportunity to connect with our campers in both large and small group settings. It’s great to see returning campers back on campus this year – something we haven’t experienced much since 2019. With the return of the Summer Symposium last summer, we spent time reestablishing camper traditions. This year, those traditions are fully vested and returning campers are helping new campers enjoy their camp experience. The camaraderie between campers is electric!

Fran Kick, Director of Leadership Programming, and his team of leadership faculty have outdone themselves yet again. This year, they brought horses to Leadership Weekend (you read that right – HORSES!). Throughout multiple Leadership Weekend sessions, campers learned the value of effective and meaningful communication, sharpened their teamwork skills, and strengthened their confidence. With all the hype and energy throughout the weekend, the horses have demonstrated that a calm and methodical approach is equally as effective to being a leader.

Year after year, the SWAG Team serves our campers. This group is the heartbeat of camp. Many of the SWAGs are past campers. With over 100 years of combined Summer Symposium experience, these servant-minded volunteers go above and beyond to ensure every aspect of our campers’ experience is exceptional. From regularly checking in with campers to helping find a misplaced item, the SWAG Team never misses an opportunity to make a camper’s day better.

On the last day of camp each year, I begin my countdown to next year’s Summer Symposium. What keeps me coming back every year is seeing youth and directors in a space of comfort, growth, and celebration. Students that might feel out of place at their school often leave camp with many new close friends. We know this because they come back next year asking to room with a friend they met at camp. I love hearing stories of how campers stayed in touch throughout the school year.

At Music for All, it is our mission to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences through music. Watching our campers find a community and place of acceptance, with hundreds of other campers from all over the country, is positively life-changing!

Written by Patrick Mainieri. Patrick is the Director of Participant Experience for the Music for All Summer Symposium and is a former SWAG. Patrick also supports honor ensemble participants at National Festival and supports event operations at many fall Bands of America events.