My Piano Camp Experience: Icicle Creek Center for the Arts

After a (traffic-filled) drive over to Leavenworth this July, I walked into the beautiful facility known as Icicle Creek Center for the Arts.  I was there for their yearly Young Pianists' Camp, a weeklong event that invites, well, young pianists from all over the state (and sometimes outside Washington) to learn and practice their current pieces in order to prepare them for the traditional recital at the end of camp.  And what an experience it was!

I can tell you, it was not all excitement in my head prior to arriving at camp.  For starters, "some random piano camp" was not exactly my idea of summer fun.  And out of the seventeen other students attending, I knew exactly zero.  "Can't I at least go with someone I know?" I would ask my mom-slash-teacher in the weeks and months leading up to our departure for camp.  Of course, she would give the classic parental answer: "You need to meet new people.  That's part of the reason why you're going!"

Even though I entered the facility with the slight intention of staying in the background and not talking unless I absolutely had to, I couldn't deny the beauty of the campus.  The modern architecture of the recital hall is set against a beautiful backdrop of mountains and trees, with winding walkways throughout and a cluster of cabins nearby.  I was greeted warmly right away by the two main teachers at the camp, with whom I would be taking lessons during the week.  My cabin was a cozy space that I shared with four other girls and our counselor.

Speaking of, their choice of cabin groupings couldn't have been more spot-on: the girls I was with were all within a year of my age, and all of them were so kind!  Sure, it was harder at first (lots of awkwardly-timed conversations meant to break even more awkward silences) but by the end of the week, it was like we had known each other for years.  I cannot stop talking about what an amazing group of people they were.  That is one of the reasons why I am especially glad I went: I got to know seventeen other amazing people who also happen to be fantastic pianists! :)

An average day at camp would include two practice sessions (each an hour long) and a 45-minute lesson with one of the teachers.  Each student gets two lessons with each teacher, totaling to four lessons for the week.  And of course, there is plenty of free time!  I remember playing lots of cards during the week... one of the teachers was saying, "It's so funny.  Everyone here plays so much cards!"  But don't worry—we didn't just sit around playing cards and playing piano all day!  Every night, there was a different fun activity, from ghost stories to hide-and-seek in the theater to movie night!

And if you're one of those people who's always got food on their mind, fear not: everyone is supplied with three full meals a day, including dessert!  The caterers are also very conscious of all dietary restrictions.  If you are unable to eat part of the main meal, an alternative will be made for you! 

At the beginning of the week, I was probably the student with the most negative emotions and ideas towards the whole "piano camp" thing.  And look at me now—telling you all the reasons why I enjoyed the experience!  Sure, it might seem intimidating at first to go to an overnight camp with no one else you know, but the experience is more than rewarding.  If you need something to do next summer and a sleep-away camp intrigues you, I would encourage you to check Icicle Creek out!  Their website is :)

—Lilia Allen