Breakaway, a diocesan summer youth program offered at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, is branching into new territory with this year’s first Breakaway Music camp.

In the Breakaway program, open to students in grades seven through nine, middle-schoolers participate in workshops and prayer services while also experiencing the outdoors with hiking, swimming and kayaking.

Breakaway Music camp, open to grades 10-12, focuses on teaching music leadership. Participants lead the Breakaway program’s prayer services and “learn about the music of their faith.”

The new camp is designed to teach participants leadership skills that they can apply in parish music ministry.

Richard Putorti, the liturgical ensemble director for St. Mary’s parish in Crescent, will be leading the Breakaway Music camp. Mr. Putorti said that he saw the need for a music-focused summer youth program: “Breakaway Music is high-schoolers supporting the Breakaway program through music.”

Mr. Putorti has been a part of Breakaway since its inception a few years ago. Breakaway is offered at Pyramid Lake during the same week as Christian Leadership Institute (CLI), a popular diocesan program for high school students that fosters faith, leadership and planning skills.

The Breakaway camp has always had an element of music in it, said Mr. Putorti; it was just not the focus. Last summer, he got the idea to teach all the students in Breakaway how to sing in three-part harmony.

“Maybe the Holy Spirit took over me,” he said. After hearing the students perform, “We were all like, ‘Wow!’” Camp leaders said, “We’ve got to do something with music.”

Mr. Putorti said the new Breakaway Music camp comes at a time when many parishes are in need of music ministers. The camp will help to plant the seeds of interest in parish music ministry.

“Oh, my gosh, do we need leadership in music,” said Mr. Putorti. “We have musically-talented kids, but what amount of participation do you see in church? You don’t.”

Mr. Putorti said that some kids may not know they are welcome to participate in church music; others may not know how to get involved.
“Where are our next people [who are] going to be organists, pianists, choir directors?” he asked.

If someone were interested in being a choir or music director but had no background in church music, there is no formal educational program in place to train someone in the field, he added: “Where would you send someone today to learn about music of the church?” He asked. “It doesn’t exist.”

Breakaway Music will read and discuss some music-related Church documents, like “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship.” Participants will also learn where to find church music and how to get involved in their parishes, and also get the chance to just jam or sing.

The campers will also assist the general Breakaway program by leading evening prayer and preparing some readings and discussions on Scripture.

(For information, contact Brian Evers at Brian.Evers@rcda.org or 518-453-6635.)