New to Handbell Camp?

Who can ring?

Anyone who wants to ring can do so! Bells come in a wide variety of sizes, so weight is not an issue – you can have a small bell if you need one. It’s our job as directors to help you learn all the things that bells can do – how to hold the bell, how to use a mallet and how to do the various techniques that are special to bells.

What if I can’t read music?

No problem! At camp it is the director’s job to help you learn what you need to know. Ringers are grouped in individual choirs according to their knowledge, experience and ability, so you would be with other beginners and would get plenty of help.  Beginning ringers only have one or two notes and we show you how to find them in the music and when to ring.

Can I sit down to ring?

We usually stand when we ring and we prefer that you stand, but if you have a physical issue we encourage you to bring a high stool with you. At camp we have chairs in the practice rooms and you will get breaks occasionally!

What does Handbell Musicians of America mean?

Handbell Musicians of America is the national organization that works hard to provide education and special events that promote the art of ringing handbells. The Handbell Musicians of America has divisions all around the country. Here in the midwest we belong to Area 8, which includes Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.

Do I need to buy music or bring any special equipment to camp?

No, all the music you need will be at camp and bells are provided by the directors and some local churches. You will need a pair of gloves, which can be purchased at camp for about $6 and some directors even bring spare gloves. A pencil is useful and some ringers bring tape or band-aids for their fingers because after a few days some people get blisters.

Do we ring all day at camp?

You’ll find a sample schedule on the CLASSES page – this year’s camp will be quite close to what you see there. We ring after the morning devotions in individual and massed (the whole group) choirs. In the afternoon there is one massed rehearsal and then a break for classes and activities. After dinner there is one individual choir rehearsal before the evening activity. So its about 5 hours of ringing each day plus whatever you choose to do in classes. There’s plenty of time to rest or take a walk or make new friends.

Is it better to be in camp or register as a commuter?

We think you have a better camp experience as a camper. Of course you can commute, but the extra traveling and the long hours can make your camp experience less enjoyable. If you do commute, we need you to be at camp from breakfast time (before devotions), to the end of the evening activity – because your choir will probably be participating and they need you.

Do I have to be in the talent show?

The talent show is a fun activity and each individual choir usually plays something during the evening. Apart from that your participation is completely optional. This is a very fun time with lots of laughing and silliness – the talent is sometimes amazing and sometimes a little questionable!

What do we do at Christmas in July?

Each choir usually plays a Christmas piece, some of us wear something “Christmassy,” there’s usually a Christmas tree, maybe some candy-canes, and at the end of the evening we exchange “white elephant” gifts. It’s just an excuse to bring out the Christmas music and have fun! Please don’t spend money on the gift – look for something you have at home and wrap it – nobody puts their name on the gift they bring and some of the gifts have been coming back to camp for years!