Summer camps are usually limited to children and teens, and typically include physical activities such as archery, canoeing, and horseback riding. A group gathered in Chattanooga last week for a different type of camp in which there are no age boundaries, and no ropes courses. From Tuesday afternoon through Sunday morning, students and instructors from Tennessee and surrounding states participated in the annual Jan Pennington Gray Harp Camp.
The camp is hosted each year by Jim and Jo Pennington, who started the annual event in memory of their daughter, Jan Pennington Gray, who was an accomplished harpist. Each day except Sunday began with a reveille on bag pipes played by Jim. Delicious meals were provided by camp chef, Maigualida Rowe
Instructors were Angi Bemiss and Lorinda Jones. Each led sessions ranging from tips to improve playing skills to amplifying the harp. Campers were also given helpful information on playing in health care settings, church and community events. There was even a workshop on using the harp as part of storytelling.
Angi Bemiss lives in Atlanta, and is a Certified Music Practioner (CMP). Since 1998, she has played the harp at Northside Hospital in Atlanta. She plays in all the medical departments including pre-op and recovery, oncology, and infusion, and the neo-natal intensive care (NICU) / special care nurseries. In addition, she plays for Alzheimer’s facilities, church services, hospices, and weddings. Ms. Bemiss is a popular harp workshop presenter, and she has published eleven books and about ninety pieces of sheet music arrangements for harp. She has also recorded four CD’s.
Lorinda Jones is from Elizabethton, KY, and is a performing artist and board-certified music therapist. She made a return appearance at the JPG Harp Camp for the second year. Lorinda performs solo and with a Celtic duo, The Chattering Magpies. She has published several books and made CD recordings of American and Celtic folk music.
Each instructor gave a concert for the group. The campers also had an opportunity to do skits, story-telling, and music for each other. On Sunday morning, the students played music as part of the services at First-Centenary United Methodist Church.
Since the camp is at the Penningtons’ farm, there were opportunities for nature walks and fellowship. Campers form strong friendships, and often return year after year.
For more information on the Jan Pennington Gray Harp Camp and scholarship fund, visit http://harpscholar.org/.