June 14 - 17, 2016

Join us this summer for our folk school youth camp - a unique combination of summer overnight camp, community and folk school instruction in fiddle, guitar, mandolin, pottery, indigo dying, and farming! Campers may choose one major and minor class for the workshop, all taught by master musicians and artists.  Campers will select the major class from the list below and the minor class on the first day of camp.  In between their classes, campers will enjoy a variety of activities with camp friends including swimming, paddleboating, 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. Some experience in fiddle and guitar is recommended for the music classes. 

Please complete the following forms after registration is complete. 

Beginner Old Time Fiddle
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.

Class Level: Beginner

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. 

You Can Play A Violin, But Can You Fiddle?
Nikkos Pappas

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 a different approach to your instrument, focusing on traditional fiddle music of Alabama and the south.  We will stretch your ears by exploring the intricacies of fiddle technique including phrasing, bowing, timing and rhythm, as well as the use of vibrato, improvisation, and ways to develop your ear.  We’ll even learn alternate ways to tune your instrument that are part of the old-time style.

Class Level: Intermediate

Nikos Pappas, of Tuscaloosa and originally from Columbus, Ohio was born into a family of musicians from New Mexico and Indiana.  Named a Kentucky Old-time Fiddle Master in 2009, he has performed throughout the United States, as well as Europe, Asia, and South America.  Pappas has won several blue ribbons including a six-time championship at the Ed Haley Fiddle Festival and a five-time Ed Haley Heritage Award, as well as contests at the Morehead Old-time Fiddlers Convention, Uncle Dave Macon Days, Seedtime on the Cumberland, and most recently at the Great Southern Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention in Chattanooga, besides placing at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention Traditional Fiddle contest, and the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia.  Pappas plays many styles of old-time fiddle, but emphasizes those of Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and most recently Mississippi and Alabama since his move to Tuscaloosa.

Youth Guitar
jimmy gauld & laine poole

These highly skilled and talented instructors will teach the basics as well as how to jam with other musicians. Students will learn a few jams, alternate tunings, practical tips that most guitar players use, how to perform solo or with others, ways for communicating on stage, and how to become better guitar players.

Mandolin players are also welcome in this class and will breakout and work specifically with Laine on mando. 

Class Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Jimmy Gauld has been playing the acoustic guitar for over 40 years and is self-taught. He has performed professionally as a solo artist, with multiple bands, and as a studio musician. He is a published singer songwriter and brings a wealth of knowledge to those who want to create their own acoustic guitar style.

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 skillsets 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. 

INDIGO DYEING & Painting with organic pigments

Come learn how to make your own paints from nature and make beautiful blue tie-dyed designs with our organic indigo dye! We will spend part of the time painting with paints that we make ourselves from pigments. The other part of the class will be dyeing with indigo--the legendary source of colorfast blues. 

We will learn about the history of indigo and how to create an organic indigo vat. We will then use the indigo vat to dye textiles, create our own patterns and paint. Students are encouraged to bring their own fabrics to dye (a packing list will be sent prior to the workshop), though some fabric will be provided by the instructor.

Class Level: Beginner

Jane Timberlake Cooper has studied natural dyes with Catherine Ellis at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and Yoshiko Wada, author of Memory on Cloth: Shibori Now. 

play with clay
susie caffey


Get your hands dirty! Make an Aztec sun, treasure box or handmade clay beads. Choose the project(s) you would like to do and learn a variety of techniques as we work with air dry clay. We will work with Marble-X and Sculpey clay and acrylic paint to complete one or more take home projects.

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 Montebello. 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. 

Farming: Returning to our roots
presented by Camp mcdowell 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: Beginner

McDowell Farm School Staff Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable 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.

Forms for youth folk camp

Please complete the following forms after your camper is registered. One form is required per camper.

The camper information form is completed electronically.

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.