Morland Choristers Camp is a week-long residential summer course open to choristers aged from 9 upwards, who may be members of church choirs, or school choirs, or other choirs – or who may just enjoy singing! Founded in 1971 by Canon Gervase Markham, it takes place each summer in the village of Morland in Cumbria and has grown from small beginnings into a thriving 100-strong course. Its unique feature is that over the years it has developed into an extended ‘family’, with a main age range of 9-17 and an even mix of boys and girls, offering first-class choral training in the highest traditions of the Church but in the atmosphere of an adventure holiday.
Many choristers come year after year and progress in their later teens to the role of Junior Leader then (for some) Senior Adviser. There is also space for some ‘Senior Singers’ – choristers who want to keep on coming to Camp as young adults and who are most welcome, both as old friends and as valued helpers. Choristers come from all over the UK, and an accompanied train party from London is available for those living in the south.
The week offers a busy, exciting mix of good music and good company. It is planned so that everyone has fun as well as working hard. Activities centre on the church, established in Saxon times, and the grounds of Morland House where the Markham family has lived since 1828. There is a camping site for the boys, girls sleep in the Village Hall, and meals are taken in the school. A typical day has rehearsals in the morning and evening for a wide variety of music. Most afternoons are devoted to non-musical activities, for example a dam-building competition in a mountain stream or Morland’s particular version of ‘Sports Day’.
Evensong is sung in Carlisle Cathedral on Friday, then on Saturday a concert in Penrith can include staged musicals, spirituals or chart hits. On the final Sunday, the Camp processes down the village street to morning Eucharist in the village church. Then, in the afternoon, Tea for parents and friends culminates in a prize-giving, which includes an award for the most ‘professional’ chorister and the presentation of the group Challenge Cup. This leads on to the closing Choral Evensong, for which Morland Church is always packed.
There are some 20 Staff with musical and/or pastoral training and experience, and a group of seven Senior Staff are in overall charge. Governance is exercised by the Board of Trustees which Canon Markham established in 1990 to ensure the camp’s continuation. Trustees include leading musicians and members of the Church as well as residents of Morland and members of the Markham family and Camp staff. The Camp is endorsed by the Royal School of Church Music which runs chorister courses across the country.