Cultivating creativity, talent and faith

In the heart of summer 2023, Wonderland Camp and Conference Center was a vibrant hub of creativity and musical exploration, hosting two distinct music and creative arts camps that ignited the passions and spiritual growth of the Central Territory’s youth and young adults.

The campground echoed with the talent of Resonate, a worship arts conservatory, where 70 students honed their artistic skills. Following in its wake, Central Music Institute (CMI) drew 170 aspiring musicians into its embrace, focusing on the mastery of brass band, vocal music and gospel choir. The back-to-back camps not only provided an exceptional platform for artistic growth but focused on the spiritual journey.

Artistic Immersion, Visionary Creativity

Guided by the theme “Visualize,” Resonate immersed students for five days in audio/visual, dance, drama and praise band, igniting their imaginations and nurturing their talents. Adding international flair, guest instructor Stephanie Lamplough, United Kingdom and Ireland Territory assistant director for music and creative arts, lent her expertise in vocal music and musical theater, leaving an indelible mark on participants.

Ensuring spiritual nourishment, chaplains Captains Brenna and Vinal Lee helped campers visualize their creativity from the perspective of a holy God. Each day began with “Morning Manna,” setting the tone with scripture, prayer and worship. A daily rhythm unfolded with technique sessions to refine craft, followed by individual majors for the week, and elective classes that offered a diverse range of choices. Camaraderie thrived in small groups that fostered connections. One more major class, followed by an evening meeting, punctuated each day.

One evening, acclaimed speaker, Christian recording artist, scholar and author Scott MacIntryre, who rose to fame as the first blind finalist on the TV show “American Idol,” presented an evening of performance, personal story and an audience-engaged Q&A session.

As the week drew to a close, the creative efforts led to a breathtaking meeting on Saturday morning. Dedication, practice and shared vision culminated as students took the stage, showcasing the fruits of their labor.

Nurturing Melodies, Cultivating Roots

The next week a symphony of musical exploration unfolded at CMI which offered a profound journey into the world of brass band, vocal music and gospel choir. Guided by the spiritual theme, “Roots,” the camp drew on the wisdom of Majors Dan and Stephanie Sawka, who cultivated a deep understanding of God’s Word.

As with Resonate, each day dawned with “Morning Manna.” From refining techniques to harmonizing in chorus, the pursuit of personal elective classes and the resonance of major rehearsals, the camp provided a comprehensive concentration in music.

Guest Gavin Lamplough enriched the experience with his expertise. As principal cornet of the International Staff Band and conductor of the Birmingham Citadel Band, his insights added an additional layer of mastery for participants. Vocal guest Stephanie Lamplough drew on her prowess in vocal music and inspired campers with her exemplary leadership.

CMI embraced recreation, inviting students to take part in a variety of optional activities that fostered a sense of fellowship and balance. Additionally, vocal and band reading sessions were offered to faculty and students alike. Monday night saw a memorable performance as guest recording artist Natalie Layne captivated the camp. Wednesday provided a day of exhilarating fellowship and fun as campers explored Six Flags Great America. Toward the end of the week, student showcase performances celebrated individual and ensemble achievements.

ElectFest also served as a vibrant celebration of creativity. Elective performances took center stage, showcasing the unique flavors and styles each class brought to the table. That same evening during the much-anticipated Awards Festival, each major ensemble was featured, and students were recognized for individual achievements with awards and scholarships. This year’s Ben Meritt top camper award winner was JJ Pook from the North & Central Illinois Division and the Crosby O’Neil top corps award was presented to the Omaha Citadel, Neb., Corps from the Western Division.

As echoes of CMI resonated throughout the camp, leaving a trail of melodies and memories, the final moments arrived with Sunday morning’s worship led by Territorial Commander Commissioner Evie Diaz. In this sacred space, the notes of the week’s journey melded with worship, reminding participants that, like roots, music and, more importantly, their relationship with the Savior are sources of sustenance, growth and connection.



Outstanding Student – Live Event Track
Bol Choul (Omaha Citadel, Neb.)

Outstanding Student – Video Production Track
Eli Roussin (Escanaba, Mich.)

Visual Media Track Overall Award
Chase Sidaway (Dearborn Heights Citadel, Mich.)


Outstanding Student – Level 1
Liam Senn (Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.)

Outstanding Student – Level 2
Rebecca Sidaway (Dearborn Heights Citadel, Mich.)

Praise Band Track Overall Award
Abby Ortman (Norridge Citadel, Ill.)


Outstanding Student – Level 1
Aaliyah Rooks (Omaha North, Neb.)

Outstanding Student – Level 2
Daniela Cañas (Latin America North Territory)

Drama Track Overall Award
Brianne Simmons (Michigan City, Ind.)


Outstanding Student – Level 1
Elijah Sells (Peoria Citadel, Ill.)

Outstanding Student – Level 2
Olivia Lamplough (Birmingham, UK)

Dance Track Overall Award
Karolyne Welsh (Latin America North Territory)

CMI Awards

Temple Band
Nyayoung Gatluak (Omaha Citadel, Neb.)
Alyssa Sander (St Louis Temple, Mo.)
Nyawan Chut (Omaha Citadel, Neb.)
Rachel Grindle-Phelps Scholarship

Shagbark Band
Eddie Hubbard (Moline, Ill.)
Chase Sidaway (Dearborn Heights, Mich.)
Gracielynn Alvarez (DeKalb, Ill.)
Franklin & Gladys Botu Scholarship

Gospel Choir
Ladarion Jones (Decatur, Ill.)
Chantal Polusca (Chicago Temple, Ill.)
Glynn Morris (Chicago Kroc, Ill.)
Gospel Choir Award and Scholarship

Citadel Band
Emmet Southfield (Norridge Citadel, Ill.)
Nyamal Chut (Omaha Citadel, Neb.)
Garrison Spencer (DeKalb, Ill.)
Donald Hanton Scholarship

Tabernacle Band
Anthony Godoy (Rio Abajo, Panama)
Laura Bell (Flint Citadel, Mich.)
Emmanuel Leka (Rockford Temple, Ill.)
Paton Family Scholarship

Booth Chorale
Chris Sander (St Louis Temple, Mo.)
Abby Ortman (Norridge Citadel, Ill.)
Charlotte Woods (THQ)
Colonel Douglas Norris Scholarship

Wonderland Band
Troy Hanton (Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.)
Josie Lamplough (Birmingham, UK)
Keegan Hanton (Norridge Citadel, Ill.)
William & Katherine Scarlett Scholarship

Ernest & Mary Miller Vocalist Award
Ethan Walker (Echo Grove, Mich.)
Abby Ortman (Norridge Citadel, Ill.)

Major John Mowers Guitar Award
Gerald Ovalles (Tres Brazos, Dominican Republic)

Marjorie Marshall Piano Award
Bramwell Carr (Dearborn Heights, Mich.)

Ronald Rowland Cornet Award
Nyamal Chut (Omaha Citadel, Neb.)

Howard Chesham Horn Award
Sofia Cerezo (South America West)

John R Cheyne Trombone Award
Nathan Kim (Chicago Mayfair, Ill.)

Earle Hanton Euphonium Award
Amanda Curry (Royal Oak, Mich.)

Ray Wright Tuba Award
Garrison Spencer (DeKalb, Ill.)

Flint Citadel Smith-Uden-McDougall Percussion Award
Manny Coppin (Royal Oak, Mich.)

Majors William and Jean Stuart Leadership Award
Glynn Morris (Chicago Kroc Center, Ill.)

Bernard A & Bessie H Smith Conducting Award
Timothy McDonald (Fulton Heights, Mich.)

Irwin & Marion Fischer Awards
Composition – Daniela Canas (Guatemala)
Leadership – Kyla Chester-Hopkins (Des Plaines, Ill.)
Leadership – Abby Ortman (Norridge Citadel, Ill.)

Walt Winters Instrument Repair Resources Award
Rio Abajo, Panama

Ramsdale-Jaudes-Boyer Rookie Award
Charlotte Woods (THQ)

Brigadier Harry Strissel Most Improved Award
Jonas Carr (Dearborn Heights, Mich.)

Steve Diaz Chaplain’s Award
Manny Leka (Rockford Temple, Ill.)

Lois & Len Duguay Spirit of CMI Award
Ladarion Jones (Decatur, Ill.)

Ben Merritt Award-Arthur Shoults Scholarship Award
JJ Pook (Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.)

Crosby O’Neil Award
Omaha Citadel, Neb.





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