Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp for People with Williams Syndrome

Sunday, June 22, 2014-Saturday, June 28, 2014

The ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp is a week-long residential camp designed for people with Williams syndrome who are at least 16 years-old.

For potential campers: The application process for the 2014 camp is now closed. To receive notifications about the 2015 camp, sign up here.

For potential counselors: If you wish to learn more about what it’s like to be a counselor, please click here. If you are interested in applying for a 2014 camp counselor position, please complete this form. Applications will be available mid-March.

Click here for news and links about last year's event

Music campers work together with a counselor to write a song.

Fun, Musical Experience Also Focuses on Social Skills and Independence

Campers celebrate music by participating in a songwriting workshop, recording session, songwriter's night and a live performance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Campers are invited to take part in research activities.

Two key elements to camp participation are independence and flexibility:

Promoting independence

We promote independence at many times throughout each day. We do so by expecting campers to wake on their own, shower and get breakfast independently (food is provided in a common kitchen.) We make shower schedules so campers are assigned to shower in the morning or evening. Counselors do not assist campers with hair, makeup or clothing selection. We load 12-15 passenger vans, expecting campers to be able to climb in and out of vans.


Campers need to follow instructions given by counselors, particularly as it relates to getting from one place to another on time. Campers should be flexible to schedule changes, interacting with new people, and taking direction from different adults. Specific meals are ordered each day and accommodations cannot be made if the camper does not like the meal. Rehearsal typically involves participating in a group performance, singing on cue, and following instructions from the music director.

Tuition is $1300.

ACM Music Camp Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I sign my child up for the Music Camp?
A: There is an application process for the Camp, which involves a $25 application fee. We have a limited number of slots available. Applying for Camp does not guarantee you a slot.

Q: Does my child meet the criteria for attending the Camp?
A: Criteria are:

  • Diagnosed with Williams Syndrome
  • Minimum age: 16 years--No maximum age
  • Verbal and able to respond to directions
  • Possesses musical ability
    ° Campers will be expected to participate in the rehearsals and to sing at rehearsal, the recording studio, and on stage, regardless of their singing “talent” so they need to be comfortable and willing to sing, even if they don’t necessarily excel at singing.
    ° Audition tapes or other forms of documentation are NOT necessary.
  • Able to stay away from home for a week and able to learn and socialize well with other teens and adults with Williams Syndrome
  • Needs to be relatively independent with no aggressive behaviors or wandering away

Q: Who are the celebrities involved with the camp?
A: Music professionals from Music City may share their talents and help guide activities during certain points during the week to help mentor young budding musicians with Williams Syndrome. The participating professionals will be a surprise that week, since the primary focus of this music camp is to promote friendship and camaraderie between campers, even after they leave camp. We want the focus to be on the special bond that campers forge during this amazing week of music camp.

Q: My child would only be able to attend some of the dates of camp. Is that ok?
A: No. Your child would need to be at the camp by the afternoon of the first Sunday and stay through the morning of the following Saturday.

Q: Is it possible for my child to attend the camp but not spend the night?
A: The demands of this weeklong residential Music camp require that each camper be independent and be responsible for their self-care so we can focus on making music and building lifelong friendships. We realize that this will exclude some individuals with disabilities, but in order to make the camp successful for all, we expect that each camper will spend the night on site to fully participate in all the activities available.

Q: When will Summer 2014 applications be available?
A: January 2014.

Q: How much does the Camp cost?
A: The tuition is $1,300. That includes room, meals, and all field trips. Please note that families incur the additional cost of transporting their child to Nashville. The Opry performance is on a Friday but the campers don’t leave until Saturday. Campers must remain in the dorm until Saturday and parents cannot stay in the dorm with their child. Therefore if the parents come to town to see the performance, they will incur lodging, meal, and transport expenses. Additionally, families must pay for their ticket to the Opry performance, which costs ~$40-$55/person.

Q: What if we cannot afford the tuition?
A: Need-based scholarships are available to those who qualify. These scholarships are for tuition only. Each family is responsible for the additional expenses mentioned above. Scholarships are based on the following criteria:

Annual family income  Scholarship level  Scholarship amount 
Less than or equal to $25,000 per year  100%  full tuition scholarship 
Between $25,001 and $50,000 per year  75%  tuition scholarship 
Between $50,001 and $75,000 per year  50%  tuition scholarship 
Between $75,001 and $100,000 per year  25%  tuition scholarship 

Supporting documentation, typically the previous year’s tax return, is required for the scholarship application.

Q: What are the Camp primary activities?
A: Campers write a song with a professional songwriter, record the song in a studio with a recording artist, participate in jam sessions, go on field trips to music-related venues in Nashville, share meals together, participate in research (on a voluntary basis), and perform on the Grand Ole Opry.

Q: Can I visit my child during Camp?
A: One of the goals of the Camp is to promote independent living skills. In order to work towards that goal, we ask that parents let their children enjoy the Camp experience on their own. Parents are welcome at the Grand Ole Opry performance on Friday and are notified when tickets are available for purchase.

Q: What is the camper/counselor ratio?
A: The Camp has 1 counselor for every 3 campers.

Q: Is the staff support sufficient for my child?
A: Camp is an exciting experience. Campers should be independent and need little help with daily activities, such as dressing and self-care. They should be able to participate in group activities with little redirection. Campers who are easily overstimulated, have difficulty being in close contact with others for 10-12 hours a day, and need to be separated from a group to calm down will have a difficult time keeping up with the pace of this residential camp. Campers need to be able to communicate their needs to staff through appropriate verbal means.

Q: What will the campers’ residential experience be like?
A: The campers stay at a dormitory on the Vanderbilt University campus. Only Camp staff, University staff, and campers have access to the dorm. Because the dorms are on an access card system, people have to get special permission in order to get an access card and get into the dorm. The dorms are two-story cottages, consisting of 10 rooms and 2 bathrooms. Five bedrooms and 1 bathroom are on the second floor, while the other 5 rooms and bathroom are on the first floor. There is a kitchen in each dorm where campers will prepare breakfast every morning. There are two counselors and up to 8 campers in each dorm. Bed linens and towels are provided to the campers. Campers will be expected to make their own bed and unpack their clothes on the first day of camp. Counselors and campers will establish shower and breakfast schedules and dorm rules on the first day of camp. Campers will be expected to respect the space and privacy of other campers in their dorm.

Q: What are the expectations of campers/families?
A: Accepted families are asked to sign and follow the below codes of conduct.

Q: Do I have to participate in research?
A: No, you don’t have to participate in any of it or you can select which research projects you wish to be a part of.

Q: What is research like?
A: Research activities take place during down times (such as in the morning, during rehearsal, or during breaks) so that campers do not miss out on any of the camp activities. Some research projects are done as a group and some are done individually. During research, campers will be asked to answer questions, watch videos, listen to music and musical sounds, and participate in group interventions. Additional research activities might include EEGs. Parents will also be asked to complete questionnaires about their child and family. Research activities could take up to 2 hours of camp time in the entire week.

Q: What is a typical day like?

  • 7:00-8:00 am breakfast
  • 8:00-9:00 am cleanup/shower
  • 9:00 am load vans
  • 9:30 am-12:00 pm rehearsal
  • 12:00-12:30 pm lunch
  • 12:30 pm load vans
  • 1:00-3:30 pm rest time
  • 3:30 load vans
  • 4:00-7:00 pm off-campus activity
  • 7:00 pm load vans
  • 7:30 pm fireside chat
  • 9:00 pm bedtime

Q: Do you have any information on other camp opportunities?
A: For other camp opportunities, please see:

Join the Mailing List

To receive notifications regarding the 2014 camp, please sign up here.
Please note, you should only be signing up for this list if your child is 16 years or older and has Williams syndrome.


Laura McLeod,, (615) 343-5322


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