The Life-Changing Magic of Dorian Camp

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It’s amazing the difference one week can make.  But really, I should have known--this was no ordinary week.  It was a week at Dorian.

Last week our son Luke attended Dorian Middle School Music Camp for the first time. Sunday afternoon we dropped off a 12-year-old, and this past Saturday we picked up a bubbly, accomplished, and very happy 13-year-old.

Over the years I’ve heard great stories about Dorian and how transformative it has been for many children and young adults. But it wasn’t until I had a chance to view it up close that I really appreciated its magic.

In just a few days at Dorian, Luke grew his skills in viola and choir, made several new great friends, lived away from home for a week, ate his fill of delicious food at the cafeteria, learned stop-motion animation, played games, went to a pool party, enjoyed walks to the Whippy Dip, and had many other wonderful experiences. On his 13th birthday, which fell during Dorian, he received a Happy Birthday serenade at choir practice, and very kind staff allowed us to sneak into his dorm room for some covert birthday decoration as well.

Above all of his experiences, Luke was most impressed with the people--the counselors, the teachers, the coordinators, and all the people who work so hard to make Dorian an incredible experience for everyone. He found the counselors always so cheerful and helpful and supportive, and told us repeatedly how impressed he was by his Dorian teachers, and how much he learned.

I was lucky enough to see a few minutes of this teaching up close. On Saturday, we stopped by to meet up with Luke after his Saturday morning rehearsal to move him out of the dorms. We were early to arrive, so we sat in the back of the CFL to wait while Dr. Jennaya Robison completed choir rehearsal. We were of course dazzled by the quality of the singing, and equally impressed by Dr. Robison’s teaching style. After one song, she stopped to point out several singers who had been particularly expressive and effective--praising them openly, by name.  Even from the back row, I could see these children stand up straighter and smile wider after this kind acknowledgement from Dr. Robison.

After another song, Dr. Robison paused again to praise the whole group's performance, noting, "You're going to make your parents cry." (Spoiler alert--much to the mortification of my daughter sitting next to me, this parent was already crying at the beauty of these voices. Pure magic.)

Within about five minutes of arriving home from Dorian, our son wanted more. "Can I go back next year?" Sure, we said. He smiled, and added, "I want to go back for the next SEVEN years." Sure, we said.

Thank you, Dorian Magicians. Thank you for your creativity, your professionalism, your loving care of our children, and your inspiring teaching of our young musicians and artists. See you next year, and the next year, and the next . . . .

Alexandra White

Alexandra White

Alexandra White, Luther College assistant professor of management, joined the Luther community after nearly 20 years working for a wide range of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, start-ups and management consulting groups. At Luther she teaches principles of management, data analysis for business decision making, project management, and introduction to business. In January 2018, she will co-teach PAD 450: Exploring the Ethics of Sustainable Organizations in Sweden and Norway.

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  • June 20 2018 at 4:37 pm
    Mona Nelson

    Alexandra, thanks for giving the parent perspective of the Dorian experience.  A Luther experience we support for all students who attend camps or enroll in the college.

  • June 25 2018 at 12:32 pm
    Alexandra White
    Thanks, Mona--so glad you enjoyed it, and you are so right--we hope that all students get access to this Luther magic, in its many forms!
  • September 18 2018 at 8:53 am
    Rolf Moan-Luther grad 1973

    Albeit my son was a “son of Luther graduates” but that somewhat direct impetus was not the only reason he chose Luther. It mirrors your son’s story of the great music experience to go hand in hand with the wonderful staff and comeraderie that welled up with new friends... that carried on beyond a single year; carried on such that after graduating in 2002 the cadre of friends have shared invitations to be part of weddings, brought entire families to one spot for shared vacations and multiple couples even surviving the challenges of hiking in the northern boundary waters (sorry, I’ll pass on that one). The music experience, that carried through four years at Luther, now has my son Christopher beginning his tenth year as choral director at Victor J Andrew HS in Tinley Park, Il.

  • October 11 2018 at 12:11 pm
    Alexandra White

    Rolf - So glad to hear your son had such a wonderful  experience, and congratulations on his success today.  Luther has a powerful effect on people's lives, I feel very lucky to be part of it as a faculty member.  Thanks very much for taking the time to share your story. 



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