Youth Folk Camp | June 26-29, 2017


Youth Folk Camp | June 26-29, 2017

from 50.00
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For Rising 5th through 12th graders!

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Class Majors 
Class Minors 
Instructor & Counselor Bios 
Camp Community & Cabin Life
Pricing Information
Health Form
Packing List

Join us this summer for our folk school youth camp --a unique combination of summer overnight camp, community and folk school instruction in ceramics, farming, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and painting! Campers may choose one major and minor class for the workshop, all taught by master musicians and artists. Campers will select their major and minor classes in the pop up registration form. Each class is limited to 15 students. 

In between their classes, campers will enjoy a variety of activities with camp friends including swimming, paddle boating, hiking, and the ropes course. A Camper Showcase for family and friends will be held on the last day. 

The Alabama Folk School Youth Camp is open to rising 5th-12th grades. Experience in violin/fiddle, guitar, or mandolin is required for majoring in the music classes. Campers with no prior experience may select a music class as a minor. 

Class Majors

Campers may choose one major and one minor class for the workshop. Campers will select their major and minor classes in the pop up registration form. Each class is limited to 15 students. 

Ceramics With Alabama Clay
Instructor: Susie Caffey

Students will work with real Alabama clay! We will sketch and carve images on leather-hard clay tiles and glaze and fire them for a completed work of art to take home. Each student will have a turn on the pottery wheel, while others explore hand-building techniques, including coil pots and slab construction. Because of lack of drying time, these pieces may be taken home as greenware or left for firing and picking up at a later date .    

Class Level: Multi-Level

Required Supplies: Students may wish to bring a sketchbook if they have one. Otherwise, paper and pencils for sketching ideas will be provided.

Farming: Returning To Your Roots
Instructor: McDowell Farm School Staff

Farming is organic, natural and self-produced, just like the music and visual arts of folk traditions. Campers will be learning to grow sustainable crops using a combination of traditional practices learned from our past, helping care for our farm animals, and exploring the culinary arts through food harvested and prepared in our teaching kitchen. Agriculture has been ever present at Camp McDowell and, returning to our roots, is finding its way back into our community.

Class Level: Multi-Level

Fiddle I: Old Time Fiddle
Instructor: Tim Avalon

If you want to have fun for the rest of your life, you're in the right class. We will cover the basics: holding the fiddle, fingering the notes, bow patterns, how to use a tuner and rhythm. Students will have the option of learning by ear, notation or fiddle tab. We will play dance tunes in an Old Time style. This class is guaranteed to be a good time and you will go home with a better feel for the instrument and music.

Required Supplies: fiddle and bow

Class Level: Advanced Beginner

Fiddle II
Instructor: Carter Laney

So you've devoted a few years to learn how to play the violin, focusing on how to control your bow, play in tune, and interpret a piece from the sheet music...These skills are all great and necessary towards becoming a skilled musician, but they're not the only ones available for you to learn and enjoy with your violin.  

This class will introduce students to a different approach to their instrument, focusing on traditional fiddle tunes and working on the basics of Old-Time fiddling! Students will learn some rhythmic bowing patterns and how they fit into several tunes. We will also explore tunes in at least 3 different traditional old-time tunings.

Required Supplies: Fiddle, bow, electric tuner. A recording device can also be helpful if you would like to replay and work on materials after the camp.

Class Level: Intermediate

Guitar & Mandolin
Instructor: Laine Poole

Guitar and mandolin students will learn right hand strumming patterns in different time signatures that they can apply to a wide variety of musical styles. They will also learn techniques of incorporating single note phrases into their chord changes (also known as licks). Mandolinists and more advanced guitar students will add solos to the arrangements of songs that all participants will perform together as a musical ensemble. Instruction will be provided throughout the classes in reading chord charts and tablature, song structure and arrangement, and how and what to practice when readying for a performance (also known as gigs).  

Class Prerequisites: Students should know basic chord and how to hold a pick. 

Required Supplies: Their primary instrument with its case, several plectrums, a set of strings, and (for guitarists) a capo. 

Class Level: Advanced Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

The Artist in You! An Introduction to Creating Original Paintings
Instructor: Dorothy Dixon

Students will be introduced to image selection, composition, drawing, use of color, and painting. We will work in both acrylic and oil paints. Students can expect to complete one or two original paintings.

Required Supplies & Materials: Students should bring images they would like to paint. Students should wear clothes that can get permanent paint on them or bring an apron or smock.

Materials Fee: A supply fee of $20 will be collected at check-in to cover the cost of paint, canvas, etc.

Class Level: Beginner/Novice, Multi-Level

Class Minors

Campers may choose one major and one minor class for the workshop. Campers will select their major and minor classes in the pop up registration form. Each class is limited to 15 students. 

Carving Mini Clay Tiles
Instructor: Susie Caffey

Students will sketch and carve an image of their choice on small, leather-hard clay tiles, then glaze them. The tiles will be fired while at Camp and can be taken home as finished works of art.

Class Level: Multi-Level

Create Music Worksheets
Instructor: Tim Avalon

Students will learn how to create their own practice worksheets for music. They will learn how to build an outline that helps them focus on individual goals. 

Class Level: Beginner/Novice

Introduction to Fiddle
Instructor: Carter Laney

Class description coming soon!

Class Level: Beginner/Novice

Introduction to Guitar or Mandolin
Instructor: Laine Poole

Campers will focus on forming at least two chords and developing a right hand rhythm pattern that they can use to play a complete song. Chord charts and tablature will be introduced, as well as single note melodies.

Class Level: Beginner/Novice

Introduction to Oil Painting
Instructor: Dorothy Dixon

Students will learn the basics of painting in oil.  Students will complete one basic oil painting. A materials fee of $7 is required for this class minor. 

Class Level: Beginner/Novice

Instructor & Counselor Bios

Tim Avalon

Composer, performer and music teacher, Tim Avalon is a master of folk tradition. Self-taught, he first learned the guitar, banjo and mandolin, then took up the fiddle like his grandfather before him. For twenty-six years, he has taught at the Avalon School for Stringed Instruments, inspiring students of all age. He was awarded the state championship at the State Fair for two consecutive years in mandolin and was named Mississippi Folk Artist of the Year in 2000. Tim has published a collection of Irish and Old Time fiddle tunes as well as a book of compiled tunes by Mississippi fiddlers from the 1920's and 1930's. This is Tim's third year as an instructor at Youth Folk Camp. 

Susie Caffey

Susie Caffey is an art educator with a B.A. in Studio Art from Furman University and a M.A. in Art Education from the University of Montevallo. She has taught both elementary and high school students and currently teaches art to 4th and 5th grade students in Vestavie Hills City schools. She enjoys working with a variety of media, especially clay and all things 3D. This is Susie's second year as an instructor at Youth Folk Camp.   

McDowell Farm School Staff

Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable McDowell Farm School staff members have a wealth of experience working with students and implementing agriculture practices. Each professional crew member brings strength to our dynamic farming program and the educational experiences created for young people.

Laine Poole

Laine Poole has been playing guitar for over 40 years and is comfortable with a wide variety of musical styles. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has performed with numerous bands over the years and has recorded several tracks for different artists as a studio musician. He later worked as a middle school teacher and corporate trainer, and now brings those two skill sets together as a music instructor and band coach. There is nothing Laine enjoys more than sharing his wealth of knowledge with the next generation of guitarists. This is Laine's second year as an instructor at Youth Folk Camp. 

Carter Laney

Carter Laney has been swimming in the old-time music pool for over 20 years. Mostly staying around the Birmingham area and raising a family, Carter has enjoyed the hobby of studying the fiddle and banjo styles of many traditional players. Carter loves playing for dances and playing with his band, The Yahoos.

Dorothy Dixon

Dorothy Dixon is a lifelong artist, who is finally painting and teaching full-time after careers as a registered nurse and attorney. Dorothy studied for five years with a French Impressionist painter. She has written an oil painting book titled "Whatever is Lovely." She has taught workshops throughout the Southeast.

Summer Camp Counselors

Summer camp counselors will coordinate and supervise the traditional camp activities during Youth Folk Camp, as well as stay in the cabins with campers. Youth Folk Camp counselors are a caring and enthusiastic group of college students who work at Camp McDowell throughout the summer season. Camp counselors range in age from 19-24 year old. Most counselors have prior experience as a camper or staff member at Camp McDowell and are drawn to their work through their love of camp life. Each member of this team is hired through a competitive interview and selection process that includes an extensive application, personal or video interview, and references. After hire, all counselors receive instruction in CPR, First Aid, and emergency action plans. A background check is required for all staff, as well as training in the prevention of sexual misconduct and abuse. In addition, camp counselors are guided in group facilitation, communication, and leadership skills in a variety of settings. Our camp counselors strive to nurture a positive and fun atmosphere within the cabin group and help each camper fully integrate into the camp community where all are welcome with love and joy.

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Camp Community & Cabin Life

Camp McDowell has a deep and abiding tradition of cultivating a sense of community in all camps and events. Former campers and staff alike will tell you that Camp McDowell is a place that is alive with a sense of joy, welcome, and wonder. Campers of all ages enjoy group games and recreation, singing, and eating “family style” meals in our large dining hall (Doug Carpenter Hall). In the cabin and throughout Camp, staff encourage campers to celebrate the gift of inclusion, the care of creation, and the joy of creativity and play. Many friendships--some that last a lifetime--originate among cabin mates at Camp McDowell and serve to enhance the overall camper experience during the session. Camp McDowell staff and programs consistently instill and uplift a positive spirit of community among all guests which informs our mission “ show the way the world could be!"

About the Cabins

Cabins used for Youth Folk School are located in Bethany Village. These are dorm-style, with up to 24 twin beds in one spacious room and a large bathroom with private stalls and showers. Each cabin is equipped with heat and air conditioning and is fully accessible. Click HERE to view cabins in Bethany Village at Camp McDowell.

Pricing Information

The price per person for Youth Folk Camp is $350. A deposit of $50 ensures your registration. The remaining balance on any account is due two week prior to the start of camp.

Some majors may have a materials fee, which will be communicated in advance and due upon arrival. 

For information about scholarships or to setup a payment plan, please contact 

Additional Information & Forms

For our medical staff to administer medications to any campers, medications must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • They must be in the original container.
  • The container must specify the strength and dose of the medication.
  • Medications must be age appropriate for the camper.
  • For our staff to administer a medication that is not age appropriate/ or in a way that is different than what is described on the label, we must have a note from the campers’s health care provider.

If your child is bringing any medications to Camp, please fill out the attached form which specifies the medication, dosage, and time.  Turn in this form, along with all medications to our Camp Medical Staff during check in.  

Campers of appropriate age may self carry epipens and inhalers, but these medications must still initially be presented at check in.

We stock a limited amount of OTC medications in the Health Hut, in event of unexpected illness. Our medical staff can only administer these medications with expressed consent of the camper's parent/ guardian, and will always contact you before administering any medication that you did not send to Camp with your child.

If you have any questions, please contact Brandon at

Please download, print and complete the health form and mail it to Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell, 105 Delong Road, Nauvoo, AL 35578.

A suggested packing list is provided for your convenience.