The International Music Camp: Our Summer Regional Arts Hub
Editor’s Note: The International Music Camp is located north of Dunseith at the International Peace Garden on the North Dakota -Manitoba border.
For the past 63 years, the International Music Camp has been proud to serve the people, families, schools, and communities of North Dakota by providing high quality arts instruction in a beautiful setting.
In that time, we have welcomed over 138,000 individuals through our doors and have played host to students from all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada, and 77 countries. If you were to step foot on the campus today, you would see a vibrant grounds filled with towering trees, lush greenspaces, well-maintained yet rustic teaching facilities, and state of the art performance spaces. Not to mention a combination of the more than 2,000 campers from around the world working together to become better artists. But do you know the history of how the International Music Camp came to be? The following are a few of the many important events and pieces of information that helped shape and form this institution.
The camp was started by Dr. Merton Utgaard with the support of his wife, Noella, in 1956 as a location that could serve young musicians from both sides of the border. In 1983, Joe Alme, with the support of his wife, Joyce, was named as Camp Director and served in the capacity for over 20 years. In 2007, Dr. Tim Wollenzien (with the support of his wife, Laurie,) was selected to lead the organization and would serve until the end of 2012. Current Camp Directors Christine and Tim Baumann (married) began serving the International Music Camp in 2013 after working for the organization as Dean of Girls and Dean of Boys for eight years. The camp also includes a summer support staff and artist teaching faculty of over 240 individuals who make the summer programming happen. Some of these individuals have been working at the camp for over 40 summers and camp could not happen without their efforts, talents, and institutional knowledge.
In 1956, the first IMC campers were housed in old Civilian Conservation Corps barracks and fed in the dining hall from the 1930s. While not uphill both ways, campers at that time did need to walk a long distance to get to food, rehearsal sites, and back to their dormitories. The first building that was constructed for the purpose of the International Music Camp was Howard Hall, a building that is still used today! Over the past 63 years, our facilities have grown to over 70 buildings, including 39 teaching huts, seven classrooms, nine large rehearsal spaces, six support buildings, and 11 faculty/staff cabins in addition to the dining hall and camper dormitories. Many of these buildings bear the name of the community organizations that sponsored their construction. The Burdick Center for the Performing Arts and the Alme International Arts Centre are the newest buildings, serving as state-of-the-arts performance venues for campers and faculty.
During first season of the International Music Camp, there were only two programs that were offered to campers: band and baton twirling. Since then, the IMC program offering has expanded to over 40 programs including Band, Choir, Orchestra, Piano, Garage Band, Guitar, Drama, Musical Theatre, Creative Writing, Music Composition, Dance, Basic Art, Cartooning, Sculpture, Watercolor Painting, and Digital Photography. Program offerings are continually reviewed and changed to stay current with camper interests. Past programs that are no longer offered include Computers, Pipe and Drums, Cheerleading, Flags/Rifle/Dance team, and Baton Twirling. The newest programs to be added are World Percussion and Musical Theatre.
The International Music Camp is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization and operates within a regularly updated strategic plan that guides its actions. As we prepare for the next 63 years of service to our region and world, our organization aims to remain relevant to the needs of our young people and communities. This includes continuing to hire high-quality artist teaching faculty and support staff and maintain equipment and facilities to remain usable and safe.
Cheers to the next 63 years!