Therapy camp brings music to MSU
Musicians from all ages and abilities convened in East Lansing this weekend for the ninth annual Eric “RicStar” Winter Music Therapy Camp, an opportunity for people with special needs to explore musical expression.
The camp ran Thursday through Saturday at the MSU Community Music School and included a number of musical activities to encourage interaction among people with special needs and their peers.
“The kids really enjoyed it,” volunteer Bernadette Skodack said. “They all had huge smiles on (their) faces, and so did their parents.”
The camp was created in memory of Eric Winter, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby and died suddenly in 2003 at the age of 12.
Camp director Cindy Edgerton said he had wanted to attend a music therapy camp but passed away before his dream became a reality.
Edgerton worked with his parents to create a therapy camp in his memory, held just months after his death.
Edgerton said the camp always is a hit with its campers, many of whom had come several times in the past. She said 95 people registered for this year’s camp.
“Last year it filled up in March, but it always fills up. There’s always a waiting list,” she said. “(There are) just not enough spaces for people. There aren’t enough opportunities for people to go to these events.”
Campers were divided into color-coded groups based on their age and moved from room to room, experimenting with instruments, such as the xylophone, the dulcimer and drums.
Anna Wegener, a group leader in her fourth year volunteering at the camp, said her campers especially enjoyed the My Chance to Dance session and were eager to show off their dance moves to the staff.
“Everyone was up and participating,” Wegener said. “Everyone was dancing, and they did a good job of getting everyone involved.”
The camp’s activities ended with the Be a Star Showcase on Saturday, where every camper came together with his or her age group and performed for the rest of the campers and their families.
“It’s a fun way to end, to show off their abilities,” Edgerton said.
Skodack, a group leader, said she was impressed with the campers’ involvement in the Beat Jam session, in which everyone took turns playing the harmonica or drums among other instruments to create a melody.
Skodack said it was a great feeling to see parents’ faces “light up” when it was their child’s turn to play an instrument.
“They’re always told, ‘You cannot do something,’ so to see them up there is really powerful,” she said. “Just to see the look on parents’ faces when they’re up there is powerful.”