RMC Then & Now...

Paul & Lois Hedge

Rushmore Music Camp Founders

RMC Board Members

Not pictured: Caleb Finck, Jared Opp, and Katie Opp

Our History

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 accommodate 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.

 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 their 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.

Making Music . . . Making Friends!

As we said earlier Rushmore National Music Camp was established in 1970 by Paul and Lois Hedge.  The camp is currently under the leadership of Jared and Katie Opp, Instrumental and Vocal Educators in Gregory, SD. 

Members of the Board of Directors include: Dr. Alan LaFave (President of Valley City State, Valley City, ND), Mrs. Ellen Diischer (Director of Music, St. Philip's Lutheran Church, Hastings, MN), Mrs. Deb Wantoch-Yess (Retired Director of Choral Music, Waseca High School, Waseca, MN), Dr. Randy Kohlenberg (Profressor of Trombone, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Greensboro, NC), Mr. Gary Hanson (Rapid City Public Schools - Retired), Ms.Christy Leichtnam (Rapid City Public School), Mrs. Casey Danielson (Iola-Scandinavia Public Schools), Jared Opp (Gregory Public Schools) and executive board members Katie Opp (Gregory Public Schools) 

and Caleb Finck (Tripp, SD).

Well-known guest conductors and nationally recognized faculty members provide opportunities for music learning and performance of the highest caliber. Guest conductors including James Curnow, Kenneth Bloomquist, John Paynter, Alfred Reed, Eugene Corporan, Jerry Junkin, Dale Lonis, Alan LaFave, James McKinney, Wendy McCallum and others have led the concerts performed at the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial Amphitheatre.

Campers are provided opportunities to study with professionals on their instrument and voice.  The current junior high faculty include: Miss Katie Appl, Mrs. Deb Rausch, Mrs. Anna Hakeman, Mrs. Casey Danielson, Mr. Jerome Letcher, Mr. Jeff Patzlaff, Mr. Jim Panerio, Mr. Nick Reis, Mr. Michael Skyles and Dr. Darci Bultema.  The guest directors are Mrs. Kelly Wieser, choir, Mrs. Deb Wantoch-Yess, Rushmore singers, Mr. Jeff Patzlaff, Cadet Band, Mr. Jerome Letcher, Jazz Band and Mr. Darcy Brandenburg, Concert Band. 

Current high school faculty includes: Mr. Fred Hemke, Dr. Audrey Miller, Dr. Calvin Hofer, Mrs. Casey Danielson, Dr. Travis Netzer, Mr. Michael Skyles and Dr. Darci Bultema.  The guest directors are Mrs. Deb Wantoch-Yess, choir and Rushmore singers, and Dr. Wendy McCallum, concert band.

Opportunities for enrichment in music education include music theory, music history, jazz improvisation, vocal techniques, rhythmic fitness, rock painting, ukuleles and so much more. Many recreational activities are also included in the daily camp schedule.

Here at Rushmore Music Camp we are all about...

Making Music . . . Making Friends!

RMC Staff 2023

Our staff is made up of people from all over the United States with a wonderfully array of knowledge and experience!

Katie Appl


Darci Bultema

Voice/Musical Theatre

Darcy Brandenburg

JH Guest Conductor

Casey Danielson

Horn/Board Member/Web Master

Caleb Finck

Head Counselor/Executive Board Member

Anna Hakeman


Bill Hampton

Camp Physician

Fritz Hemke


Calvin Hofer


Alan LaFave

Publicity/Board Member

Christy Leichtnam

Administrative Assistant/Board Member

Jerome Letcher

Low Brass/Jazz Band

Peggy Letcher

Camp Registrar

David Martinson

Woodwinds/Board Member

Audrey Miller


Dr. Travis Netzer

Low Brass

Jared Opp

Co-Camp Director/Board Member

Katie Opp

Co-Camp Director/Board Member

Jeff Patzlaff

Cadet Band/Low Brass

Jim Panerio


Deb Rausch


Nick Ries


Mike Skyles

Voice/Musical Theatre

Deb Wantoch-Yess

Rushmore Singers/Accompanist/Board Member

Kelly Wieser

JH Choir Director

Wendy Zander McCallum

HS Guest Conductor