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Sunday, after church, we loaded our harp into the van, then, connected the van to the tent trailer. We were soon on our way to a music camp for our daughter Elliana to be part of an orchestra and a choir. We arrived at our destination shortly before five in the afternoon and rushed to the school where the practices would be held. We needed to unload the harp there, and one of the directors was waiting for us.

He opened a gate to allow us to pull closer to the gym where the groups would practice. I unhitched the tent trailer so I could get the harp out, then, drove the van to the door where he was waiting. I lifted the harp from the van, loaded it on the dolly, and rolled into the room where he said it needed to be. As my daughter took a minute to practice, the director told us about the camp.

“This is one of the premiere music camps,” he said. “Students come from almost all of the western United States. We have music people from all over the U.S. come to help and to teach the students. Many of them volunteer and come at their own expense year after year.”

When we finished there, I hitched the tent trailer back up, and we went to the campground. Almost every one of the camp spots were full. We started visiting with the people there and learned that many of them were like us, there for their children to go to the music camp.

Even though we had the music camp in common, the diversity was greater than the commonality. Some parents were teachers like us while others were wealthy businessmen. There were people of different races and from almost every walk of life. Despite the differences, we all soon became friends.

I had to go home for a few days to work and to take care of commitments for our other daughter. When I went back to the music camp for the final concerts later in the week, Elliana had some fun stories to tell.

Her choir teacher was one of the people who had volunteered to help. He was a big, burly man who wore short-sleeve shirts. At the curve of his right arm, where the shirt sleeve ended, part of a tattoo could be seen. At first, because of his size, he made everyone nervous, so no one dared ask him about it. But as time went on, and the students in the choir realized he was just a big, fun-loving softie, their fear of him faded away. Finally, the day came when he asked if anyone had any questions, and one of the students raised her hand.

“What is your tattoo?” the girl asked.

The choir director laughed and pulled up his sleeve. There on this big man’s arm was a Disney tattoo. It had Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and many other Disney characters. The students laughed, having expected something more rugged.

“Why did you get that?” a boy asked.

The orchestra director smiled. “Well, you see, I have always loved everything Disney. In fact, I have taken my choir to the competition there every year. We never did very well, always placing last or close to last. But one year I couldn’t get my class to settle down and work. So I came up with this brilliant idea. I told them if they would work, and if we won the grand prize at Disneyland, I would get a Disney tattoo. I figured it was a safe bet since we had never even come close to winning before.

“My students got in and worked, and we had a great year. I still didn’t think we had a chance of winning since my school was small compared to the other schools we were competing against. But when we got to the competition, my small choir sang with such heart that they had the sound of a choir twice their size. We ended up winning, and, well, that is why I have a Disney tattoo.”

That night, as Elliana’s choir director lead the achoir in an incredible performance, I had to laugh at Mickey’s head poking out to watch from the director’s sleeve.

Daris Howard
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Daris Howard

Daris and his wife, Donna, have ten children and were foster parents for several years. He has also worked in scouting and cub scouts, at one time having 18 boys in his scout troop. His plays, musicals, and books build on the characters of those he has associated with, along with his many experiences. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer