Rushmore National Music Camp

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Rushmore National Music Camp Founders

Paul and Lois Hedge

The Rushmore Music Camp was founded in 1970 by Paul and Lois Hedge when he was the Band Director at Lead High School in Lead, SD, and she was the school librarian. Their vision was to provide a musical experience in the Black Hills of the highest calibre. To do this, the most recognized conductors and performer/teachers were enlisted to provide an unforgettable musical experience in one of the most beautiful settings in the country.


Soon after the Rushmore Music Camp was established, a location that could accomodate performances, facilitate group and individual instruction, provide comfortable housing, and serve delicious meals was identified as being Baptist Camp Judson on the Old Hill City road a few miles from Keystone and on the back side of Mt. Rushmore. Affiliated with the American Baptist Convention, the South Dakota Baptist Convention established Camp Judson (1926) [history of Camp Judson] as an outreach of its Christian ministry. Over the years, Camp Judson has developed into one of the most spectacular encampments in the Black Hills.


In 2004, the Junior High Camp was relocated to the campus of Northern State University, a more central location in South Dakota, to encourage younger students to be able to become involved in an exceptional summer musical experience.


Ultimately the Hedges moved to Powell, Wyoming, where he became the Band Director at Powell High School, yet they continued to administer the Rushmore Music Camp almost single handedly for many years. Some time later the Hedges founded Hedge Music Company in Powell to which both Paul and Lois devoted their full-time effort. During those years, Rushmore Music Camp continued to flourish year after year bringing hundreds of music students to the Black Hills. The Hedges continued to administer the camp through the 32nd year at which time an Executive Committee of the Board assumed that responsibility.

Rich and Marilyn Kallendar became the administrators of Camp Judson in 1980. At the 35th Anniversary of the Founding of Rushmore National Music Camp, the Senior High Final Concert was held in the beautiful new Dining Hall because of the inclement weather. The Dining Hall is one of the many improvements in Judson's spectacular setting that is a result of the Kallendar's untiring dedication. At the concert, the Kallendars were recognized for 25 years of continuous support of the Rushmore National Music Camp and many contributions. Although they retired in 2014 as the Camp Judson administrators, their presence continued to be felt during the Rushmore National Music Camp's residency.


A list of the past conductors of the Rushmore Senior High Music Camp reads like a Who's Who of the finest band conductors in the country, including Kenneth Blooomquist, Eugene Corporan, James Curnow, William Hill, Eldon Janzen, Jerry Junkin, Alan LaFave, Dale Lonis, James McKinney, John Paynter, Alfred Reed, William Malambri, and Wendy McCallum, and others. Faculty who travel from across the continent have continued to return year after year to teach in this unique musical setting. In Fall 2004, the word "National" was added to the title to reflect the fact that faculty and students from across the country participate in the music camp. In Fall 2005, a new slogan reflecting the essence of the Rushmore National Music Camp experience was adopted by the Board.


Making music . . . making friends!


Paul Hedge fought cancer bravely for many years, and lost the battle in November 2006. He and Lois were in attendance for the Final Concert of the 35th Annual Rushmore National Music Camp in 2005, and in fact, the entire Hedge family was at Camp Judson to participate in the celebration. During the Senior High Music Camp in August 2006, Paul and Lois spent most of the week at the music camp interacting with students and faculty. In fact, Paul even volunteered to teach lessons, and Lois resumed her morning cabin inspections with then Camp Nurse, Genevieve Skogberg. The Hedges also spent time in their picturesque cabin in Spearfish Canyon Creek, South Dakota, in a village known as Elmore, and hosted a Rushmore National Music Camp wrap up for there many years in August, including 2006.


Lois still maintains close contact with her son Randy, his wife Holly, and their children Stephanie, Carly, and Joshua, and her grandchildren Tyler Frederick of Worland, Wyoming, and Heidi Frederick of Tacoma, Washington. Lois, with both her musical background—an accomplished oboist—and her library science education experience, continues to be involved with the Rushmore National Music Camp.