In 1928, the Interlochen Center for the Arts started out as a high school orchestra summer camp. Over the years the camp program expanded monumentally and now encompasses all major artistic fields. The Interlochen summer arts camps remain the institute’s most well-known innovation. Each summer, over 2,500 students from across the globe attend the Center to gain proficiency in their craft, work with established musicians and artists, spend time with like-minded peers, and enjoy the beauty of Northern Michigan.
Areas of study open for grades 3-12 include music, theatre, visual arts, and dance. Motion picture arts and creative writing are available for students in grades 6-12, and the general arts program is offered to students in grades 3-9. The Center also offers one-week instrumental institutes for high school students who wish to gain further mastery in their choice musical instrument; these programs are divided into the string, brass and percussion, woodwind, and piano institutes. Each program requires a formal application, and most need an audition or portfolio submission.
Aside from the instrumental institutes, camps run anywhere from two to six weeks depending on grade level, aptitude, and required workload. Programs are divided into three grade levels: junior (grades 3-6), intermediate (grades 6-9), and high school (grades 9-12). Intermediate and high school sessions tend to be longer and more demanding than junior sessions, although there are advanced junior-level courses. All summer programs involve multiple classes in the student’s field and at least one elective class in an outside area. Programs usually end with a recital or an exhibition of student work completed throughout the summer.
Participants stay on campus for the duration of their courses. There are 120 cabins for student lodging, divided into separate areas by gender and age level. Three onsite cafeterias serve a variety of food options. Outside of class, campers can enjoy several activities. Students can attend performances, lectures, and exhibitions hosted on campus. In addition, camp counselors take students on field trips to Sleeping Bear Dunes and Peterson Beach on Lake Michigan.