There I was, in the summer of sixth or seventh grade, sitting in the string ensemble having the time of my life at school. I loved playing violin, and the human touch of music. I was able to say what I needed to say when I played the violin. I was still quiet as ever because playing the violin was all I thought I needed to express myself. My teacher, Mrs. Green, pulled me aside and told me about this great program called arts-X-press. I was hesitant because I was aware from a young age that money is sparse, but the opportunity of a scholarship was presented. I was able to go!
I was excited to go, but scared to stay. Who would I meet? Where would I sleep? HOW WOULD I EAT? Turns out arts-X-press answered those questions beautifully, and deliciously. I remember struggling to play the music, but challenge is what I thrive on. I remember going to see a Frank Sinatra show. I was so excited to tell my dad because we love that guy. I remember making ceramics and finding the little details in art. I remember taking an acting workshop and getting to be whatever I wanted to be. I got to find another art I love by singing my little heart out.
I remember seeing Carl St.Clair because he, his wife, Susan, and his son, Cole, were the reason this program started. Everyone involved let me express myself in more ways than one. I was able to act, talk, dance, sing and find other ways to be who I wanted to be. I felt I was in a box before, but now I saw the world more open than before. It was all due to the art I was shown.
I went home and always thought about that camp. I thought and thought. So, I thought I’d stop thinking about it and apply to be a camp counselor for arts-X-press. I knew I still liked music and I still acted like a kid at heart, so why not?
Everything came back full circle. I was able to feel a little bit of what Carl and Susan felt: giving the campers their “magic moments.” Luckily, I was able to get my magic moment as well. Several times.
One of them was getting to share with the children how lucky we all were to be there. I know there is a picture out there somewhere where we all got in a group hug. We then proceeded to play the arts-X-press theme song on the kazoo. Everyone in the room could feel the magic. Maybe it was the kazoos, maybe it was the vibrant energy of the children, or maybe it was the exhaustion from making sure all the logistics were set. One thing I know for sure: the magic was there.
My second magic moment was when I met Carl St.Clair. As a child I was aware of what I didn’t have, but when I grew up, I knew I had to be aware and fortunate for what I did get to have. I knew my role as a camp counselor meant giving back to what was given to me. Listening to Carl St.Clair talking about the vision of arts-X-press brought tears to my eyes. Now it’s all I think about. Many people believing in the power of the visual and performing arts to better the individuals that come to arts-X-press. The vision that when we better the children of now, they can help us better the future.
As I approach my last year at Cal State Fullerton, which will be filled with conducting classes and student teaching, I think about how fortunate I am for that one day I will be able to have a vision that can change a child’s life, such as the vision of arts-X-press that Carl and Susan shared with all of us.
I got to talk to Carl about how thankful I am to be part of the camp as a child, serve as a camp counselor and now study the same art as he does every day. I can’t wait for the day I get to make it happen. Just as Carl does every summer for the young and young at heart, as they get to experience their magic moments.
Thank you to Carl and Susan and thank you to arts-X-press for creating a vision painted in joy, sung with passion, acted with courage, played with strength and written for everyone to join.
– Jocelyne Ramirez, former arts-X-press camper
arts-X-press is Pacific Symphony’s summer arts immersion program where incoming 7th and 8th graders come together to explore the arts, nourish their sense of self and make lasting friendships. Each summer, 150 students are selected to be part of this diverse community of artists and creative thinkers.
Over the course of five days students sleep overnight in the dorms and eat meals in the cafeteria at Concordia University Irvine. Staff and counselors lead students in playing music, singing, acting, dancing, making art and writing – all in a supportive and non-competitive environment.
arts-X-press is a safe haven for self-expression that values each student’s individuality and cultivates students’ ability to appreciate the magic in life and the courage to make meaningful contributions to their communities.
For more information on how to apply or nominate a student, visit our website here. Applications are due March 10.