The impact of the WMI experience

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A mother reflects on how the Western Music Institute influenced her life and impacts the next generation.


“WMI, it’s the camp for me”—that’s what the song says. And for five years, that was my song. I thrived on the WMI (Western Music Institute) experience, learning music under the direction of Ivor and Janette Bosanko, meeting friends from around the territory year after year, and growing spiritually through “sealed orders.” It was the highlight of my summer (even attending just four weeks after getting married!). Now, some 20 years later, that highlight has been passed down to my own two children. They’ve been blessed with the WMI experience, and as a parent, it’s been exciting to see them learn to make music and grow in their own spiritual walk.

WMI is a yearly infilling of music and the Holy Spirit. When my daughter didn’t get to attend due to her work schedule, she sat through the final concert saying, “I wish I had gone…I wish I had gone.” It was that sense of “missing the experience” which encouraged her to set her plans in motion early the next year to ensure she would be there! For the other child, being forced to attend WMI turned out to be a life-changing experience. By the end of his first WMI experience, he was ready to sign up for next year!

WMI pushes the students to be the best they can be—in musicianship and in sharing the love of God through music. That is only part of the experience. Spiritual growth and developing lifelong friendships complete the picture. I have seen both my children grow in their musical abilities and in their Christian walk, all as a result of the WMI experience.

And let’s not forget those who make this experience complete—the staff and leadership who give of their time and talents each year. For my daughter it’s been the friend and songster leader who has taken the time to help fine tune her voice, from child to youth to adult.

For my son it’s the ongoing inspiration and encouragement from sitting next to one of the best trombone players, Kevin Larsson, at WMI. It’s being under the leadership of Territorial Music Secretary Neil Smith, who not only knows his seat in the band, but who knows him personally by first name. Neil pushes the student’s musicianship level to its potential, and through his humor and technique, instills a love for Army music and a love for the Lord. That’s what the WMI experience is all about, and it’s a combination that just can’t be matched.

As a mom watching my children perform in the final concert this year, I was overwhelmed with pride. Their enthusiasm and excitement, even after 10 long, hard days at camp, made me realize that the WMI experience is still alive and thriving. I see it in my children and I see it in many others. Yes, “WMI, it’s the camp for me.” It was and still is the camp where lives are changed. That’s the WMI experience. I pray that it may continue to be the music and harmony that connects my children with the Army, their friends, and most importantly, with their Lord and Savior.

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