The boys came home yesterday!
We traveled from Rothschild, WI to our home state to conclude the LOLCB tour of 2017 at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic church in Maple Grove. This was the final drive for our wearying boys, but they were enjoying the trip just as usual. The drive was short from Rothschild to Maple Grove. After having lunch in Menominee, WI, we arrived in the Twin Cities early in the afternoon. Charlie drove the bus into get washed while Camden and the boys sat outside to do the annual tour quiz: a quiz of questions about almost every event of tour. The questions ranged from “How many million gallons of water pours down Niagara Falls in each second?” to “How wins with a headbutt?”. Out of 25 questions, the victors, having got at most 17 questions correct, nabbed their prizes from the coveted prize bag.
With at least an hour left before the boys’ homecoming, we stopped by a park in Plymouth to stretch our legs, use the washroom, and clean the bus. In less than an hour the boys would be greeted by a joyful horde of parents, family, and friends. I took the opportunity to interview the last graduate of tour: Alex Hansen.
I asked this 6′ 2″ gentle giant about his feelings about his last tour and what he planned to do with his extra time. He predicted it would hit him when he got home, and never thought the day would come. With his extra time, he wasn’t sure what he planned to do. He’ll most definitely continue singing in Cambiata, and start focusing on pursuing his dream to be either a commercial airline pilot or an astrophysicist. I asked him a few more questions…
What has been your favorite moment as a Choirboy? “On the Alaska tour, when we went to see the Glacier. It was really beautiful.”
What was your favorite activity on tour? “It would be the Jet Boat Tour…I don’t know if I’d be able to do it ever again.”
What was your favorite Choirboy event this year? “Broadway, Beatles, and Boys”
Have you ever sang Happy Birthday to yourself? “Yes. [When I sang it the first time], I sang with a younger boy. I sang very loud, and Aaron complimented me on how I sang.”
What is your favorite book? “Maze Runner series.”
What is something that worries you? “The future: what might happen and what might not happen. The chances that are given to me that I may not take.”
Who inspires you? “Adults, because they’re older and more experienced, and more knowledgeable than I am.”
Tell me something about this year that you never want to forget. “My first year in Cambiata. It’s kind of a privileged choir; I feel privileged to be part of it.”
Alex, you are one of kind, and we’re so happy to get to know you.
Before arriving to St. Joseph’s Stewart and Aaron gave the boys one last talk. They explained how proud they were of them on this tour, and how each and every one of the boys demonstrated great character throughout the 18th days. After their end-of-tour address, they handed out roses for the boys to give to their families when they got off the bus. Soon it was time to come home.
The boys knew they were close to St. Joseph’s when Charlie started honking the horn. The boys were greeted by jumping, yelling, crying families as the bus approached the crowed parking lot of the catholic church. Signs of “Welcome home…” were waved with great anticipation when the boys came closer to the sidewalk. Families stood close as the boys, one by one, took their final step out their 18-day mobile home. Hugs, tears, signs, Grandpas, grandmas, dads, moms, sisters, and brothers greeted their missed boys. Several family photos were snapped, then they all went inside with bodies drawn close together for dinner and the concert.
At the end of dinner, Aaron and the staff handed out the yearly awards. From the 2 year greenhorns to the 9 year veteran, each boy received his award with handshakes and hugs. Tears were starting to well up in the eyes of the graduates and staff. We knew this was going to be an emotional evening.
The concert went very well. Because they sang in their home church, the boys performed an abridged concert. There was no need to describe the program or take questions from the audience because everyone in attendance knew all there needed to be known about the organization. The boys sang very well, having made a concerted effort to preserve their voices throughout the day. The evening became more emotional when a few boys started to realize it was their last concert of tour and of their LOLCB career. Amongst their incredible singing you could hear sniffles as they finished their last set of songs. With gratitude, amazement, and admiration the audience gave the boys a well-deserved standing ovation.
The annual homecoming event didn’t end with the applause after the final song. It continued with a ceremony of awards. There are three awards given out on this celebratory evening: Most Musical, Most Improved, and Choirboy of the Year. While some were sitting on the rises teary-eyed, Aaron gave out the distinguished awards. Determined by the staff, the award for Most Musical was given to Braeden Blake, as he had shown his amazing talent for music and his astonishing ability to lead his fellow singers both young and old. The Most Improved, which also is selected by the staff, went the commendable Jake Bakke. His leadership was evident at the onset of his officerial duties, and grew throughout the year and throughout tour. Choirboy of the Year, an award voted on by the boys, was given to the consistent and personable Tristan Christaansen. He’s been in the running for a number of tours and, having always shown his tremendous leadership abilities, finally received the award he most deserved.
Even though these three boys were specifically recognized last night, all the boys in the LOLCB organization exemplify the extraordinary ability to be a gentleman in their world today. LOLCB takes pride in their 41-year tradition to invest in boys from ages 5 to 15 years old. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Aaron Carpenter, who tirelessly tends to LOLCB’s business and artistic administration, boys from Pine City to Buffalo learn to be unbelievable citizens of the world. Along side Aaron are LOLCB’s strong, amiable, and corrigible prefects, Stewart and Camden. Their abilities to train the boys through stern but tender discipline maintain the organizations renown of “ordinary boys doing extraordinary things”. Combined with Aaron’s artistic abilities, Joseph Krueger shines behind the piano as an incredibly intuitive collaborative artist. The foremost element of our motto “Music, Respect, and Honor” increases with Joseph’s presence every year. Without the expertise of the boys’ bus driver Charlie Meuser, they would not return home in safety and in the good spirits. His highly trained skills of weaving that large motor-mammoth in and out of heavy traffic and tight New England streets is what transported our boys safely into the arms of their awaiting families last night. When boys start early in the program it is Associate Director Corrine Olinger who greets them at their first Prep Choir rehearsal, trains them, and then ushers them into the requisite Training Choir. Her homefront efforts during tour are what contributes the success of the boys’ homecoming. She’s the communication with Aaron as he’s out of the office, and facilitates the festivities when the boys come home. The success of the choir is truly a team effort, and everyone did their part last night to make a meaningful evening for the boys and their families.
So, today, the boys woke up (hopefully late) in their final and permanent host homes. They’ll celebrate the 4th of July, go on family vacations, and enjoy the rest of their summer off until camp in August. Keep them in your thoughts as they start their new season in the fall with new music, new families, and a new team of staff members.
This is the final blog entry for the Land of Lakes Choirboys Tour of 2017, and the final blog I’ll be writing for the LOLCB. I will no longer be one of the Associate Directors of this great organization. I’m moving on to direct music at Elk River Lutheran church, conduct the Eagan Women of Note, and focus on my own music career. I will never forget my work with the staff and boys of LOLCB. I learned to be a more detailed writer, a harder worker, a better planner, a deeper musician, a more thorough teacher, and kinder person because of LOLCB. Five and half years ago I came on board as a staff member somewhat skeptical of the impact the organization could have on boys, and today, on my final day, I know without a shadow of doubt the good Aaron and the rest of the staff can do for the world by instilling music, respect and honor in the 50+ boys yearly. My hope was to have left a legacy with the boys I worked with; also my present hope is to extend LOLCB’s motto “Music, Respect, and Honor” to the rest of the world I work with. Thank you all for reading the blog and supporting the Land of Lakes Choirboys.
Have a wonderful summer!