BCJ Summer Music Camp for Bridgeport Public School children

BackCountry Jazz believes in the power of music education. We provide high quality music programs for underserved youth that engage the creative spirit, encourage self-expression and stimulate academic performance. Multiple studies, and our own experience, link music study to academic achievement. Playing music teaches young people valuable skills for college, career and life success: teamwork, self-discipline, joy of accomplishment, the ability to listen, commitment, building confidence and courage.


BCJ’s Summer Camp and the After School Program bring music education to children in at-risk, high-need neighborhoods. Our camp and after school program are located at the University of Bridgeport campus, adjacent to Seaside Park. All campers are on full scholarship. Bridgeport, CT, has the highest achievement gap in the country - - between low-income students and those from more affluent communities. We believe music education can help in addressing this problem.

These students have limited exposure not only to musical experiences but to any creative or enriching activities. Our program engages the creative spirit of the children and significantly improves their ability to close the gap of social and educational experience that undermines so many from at-risk neighborhoods. Roosevelt School Principal and former head of Arts Education for the Bridgeport Department of Education explains the value of the BCJ summer program:

"These children get more music education in one month than they get in the entire school year. It is critical that we expand the program throughout the year.” — Tania Kelley, Principal, Bridgeport Roosevelt School


“A lot has changed since since I first met Bennie Wallace and became involved in BackCountry Jazz … BCJ has given me support, experience, inspiration, and encouragement that has helped me attend college, get a job, and propel me forward on my journey as a developing musician and as a person.” — Eric Zolan (former student)
“Since Keith started playing the flute his academic performance in the classroom has increased tremendously as his study skills, attention to detail and ability to memorize and repeat important facts has sky rocketed.” — Denise Grant (parent of student)

Summer Camp Description:

  • All students are on scholarship; the camp is paid for entirely with funding raised by BackCountryJazz.
  • The camp runs for four weeks, five days a week from 8:30am to 3pm.
  • The camp is open to the entire Bridgeport Public School system, ages 10 - 17, grades 5 – 12. Students are referred by their music teachers and are required to have at least one year of instrumental musical training.
  • Faculty offers music instruction in composition, improvisation, and ensemble team work on brass, woodwind, string, and percussion instruments.
  • In addition, a jazz faculty made up of performers and educators from the tri-state area comes to the camp for intensive daily workshops.
  • Throughout the four weeks, BCJ also brings world-class artists out of the concert hall and into the camp, providing students with master classes, one-on-one teaching, and small group workshops. In addition, each visiting artist performs a concert for the campers. Hearing and meeting these fine artists provides an invaluable experience that the students otherwise would never have.
  • The faculty is selected for their level of excellence. We believe that inspirational teachers are key to this experience.
  • Free Nutritious Meal Program - breakfast and lunch are provided for all campers.
  • Free instruments are awarded to deserving students at the end of camp.