As one of the nation's and world's premier centers for Arts education, Interlochen Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Academy have enriched the talents of hundreds of thousands of young people by providing them the best instruction in a nurturing setting where they are able to express their passions with their peers. Notable alumni include Anthony Rapp, Jewel, Josh Groban, Norah Jones, Peter Yarrow, and hundreds of others.
I had a chance to visit the campus of Interlochen Center for the Arts for the first time in six years. From the alumni publications I receive, I was already aware of the handful of new facilities that have been installed in the past few years, but seeing them in person was the only way to grasp the large scale advancements that have occurred in my absence. The new theatre that had been erected in my final year has a massive addition in subsequent years. There is a new library, a new film department and building, and a creative writing building. This growth is a testament to the leader's of Interlochen's vision and their partnership with institutions and individuals who have made a commitment to seeing that through both through their philanthropic support, advocacy, and manpower.
A huge short coming, however, has occurred in a curriculum shift. Since the founding of the camp in 1928, the camp ran for an eight-week session every summer. However, in 2005 under the new leadership of President Jeffrey S. Kimpton, the camp went to a six week session citing the longer school year as the cause. Kimpton's track record as a fundraiser and all the success he's had would cause some to raise an eyebrow at the justification behind the change of programming. In all the materials sent out to alumni, the camp cited students feeling that the two-month session was too long. In my personal experience, there was not a student who wanted to go home at the end of the summer - let alone wished for a shorter session.
There has been much speculation that the change was made based on monetary considerations and the camp looking to earn more money. Now we are faced with a double edged sword; do we increase the profitability of the camp and its ability to reach more students while sacrificing the quality of the education offered? Some may argue that the quality does not diminish, but for me a large portion of the value was the fact that you were literally cut off from the outside world (especially distractions such as video games and television) to focus on your art. This is a tremendous discipline being handed to teenagers at a very impressionable age. Compromising this focus means compromising the value of the instruction they receive. I'm sure the debate could go both ways but it would be my vote that the teens are left to study for the longest amount of time possible.