It’s Show Time: 400 campers attend Showchoir Camps of America on Millikin’s campus

The annual camp, started by Millikin alums Dwight Jordan ’76 and Susan Moninger ’78, celebrated its 44th year.

DECATUR, Ill. – It was the Best. Week. Ever. 

That’s how Dwight Jordan ’76 and Susan Moninger ’78, the founders of Showchoir Camps of America (SCA), want their campers to describe their experience after spending a week on the Millikin University campus honing their singing and dancing skills.

About 400 campers from more than 20 states took up residency on the Millikin campus for the 44th edition of the camp from June 18-24, 2023, for a busy week filled with rehearsals, workshops and performances. 

“Getting to see them performing at the end of the week, I know it is hard for them to say goodbye. I know this is a week they’ll never forget,” Susan said. “I know they are going to make many friendships. Most importantly, they are building a lot of confidence in who they are. They are discovering who they are and being able to express themselves. There are not many places like this where they have that opportunity to do that and just come and have fun.”

After graduating from Millikin, Dwight and Susan taught at a choir camp in Decatur. When both attended a choral arts seminar in Colorado, they began to question why there weren’t similar camps for show choir. Dwight and Susan decided to form their own. 

“We’ve watched Millikin change over the years, and I think we have a special place here just because there is so much history,” Dwight said. “We’ve seen the changes, and we’ve seen all the Presidents come through, and we’ve been through it all. Because our first camp was here, it has been where the Showchoir Camps of America began.”

From Camper to Counselor 

Bryce French serves as the camp’s Lead Counselor and has attended yearly since he was 13. Now 26, he teaches high school chorus in Connecticut and loves how much the campers are bonded by their camp experience. 

Bryce French
Bryce French serves as Lead Counselor for the Showchoir Camps of America. 

“The community is the No. 1 reason I keep coming back. I have found that I have learned so much about not only being a good teacher but being a great human from all of them,” he said. “I love to come and see the kids go through what I was able to go through. I think this camp put me on a path to finding a career in which I would be happy. I want the same for all of them.”

The list of accomplished performers who were once camp attendees continues to grow, including Lance Bass of *NSYNC and 2000 Tony Award winner Heather Headley. This year’s camp featured a workshop by former camper Scott Nicholson, now a choreographer and member of the creative team for pop singer Ariana Grande. 

“There are kids that probably could go to Broadway tomorrow and some that have never sung or danced before in their entire lives,” Bryce said. “The best thing is that they all get to be in the same group together. They all come from different states, schools and places where music is thought of differently. The room for collaboration helps many beginners grow and then helps the advanced people become teachers.”

Local attendee Isaiah Johnson, from Mount Zion, was excited to have a camp of this caliber in his backyard. 

“It is great that everyone comes here to Decatur for a camp, and it is cool to see all these people here in my hometown,” he said. “Everyone is so different, and we can all connect through one thing.” 

This is the camp’s second year returning after having to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. The addition of the new Center of Theatre & Dance on Millikin’s campus in 2020 has opened up new possibilities for campers to improve their skills.

Showchoir Camps of America

“It’s my favorite thing in the world to walk across the campus and look up that giant window and see 60 kids having the time of their life learning something and being active. It’s a really beautiful thing,” Bryce said. “I commend Millikin for taking a chance and putting their money into the arts, which I think is the most important place right now.”