Passion for FHSU's High Plains Music Camp spans 5 decades, 3 generations for Raynes family

music camp - Raynes family

By Diane Gasper-O'Brien
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- It's been more than 50 years since Clint Raynes first attended the High Plains Music Camp at Fort Hays State University.

They just keep getting better and better, says Raynes, a retired high school band director who attended his first music camp as a high school saxophonist back in 1965.

The 2016 camp -- the 69th annual which got underway Sunday with about 280 campers arriving on campus -- promises to be an especially enjoyable time for Raynes and his wife, Jeannette.

Clint and Jeannette made the trip to Hays from their home in Scott City early Sunday morning to accompany their daughter, Amy France, and their 11-year-old granddaughter, Delaney France.

Amy, who attended the event several times as a camper, is in her first year as a camp counselor. This is Delaney's first time participating at the music camp, making the young clarinet player a third-generation camper.

Delaney got her first look at the music camp last year when the Raynes family came to Hays to present a $250 scholarship to a camper in honor of the Raynes' middle son, Jeremy, who died in a vehicle accident when he was 16.

Jeremy, his young sister Amy and older brother Jeff were regulars at the music camp during their middle school and high school days when both their parents taught music in several schools across Kansas.

Amy wanted to do something to honor her brother and came up with the idea of a music camp scholarship.

"Music was a huge part of our growing up, and this was a place that the three of us loved so much," Amy said. "Last year, when we were here for the scholarship presentation, all the memories came back."

So there was no doubt that Amy wanted to send her oldest daughter to camp this year -- and work as a counselor herself.

Delaney said she was excited and nervous at the same time, but her mom assured her daughter she is in for a treat.

"I have a lifetime of friendships I've made at this camp," Amy said. "There are so many connections you make."

Amy told Delaney she needn't be worried about Sunday afternoon's auditions, which determine what level of ensembles the campers practice with throughout the week.

"I have told her not to worry about the auditions," Amy said. "(The faculty) are going to set you up where you're going to be successful."

Delaney, who will enter sixth grade this fall, was homeschooled the past two years, so Grandpa Raynes started her in band last year.

Clint and Jeannette settled in Scott City in retirement because they wanted to be near their grandchildren. Amy and her husband, Clint France, are farmers/ranchers in adjoining Wichita County and the parents of three children.

Clint started the family tradition of music when he came to what was then called the High Plains Band Camp just before his senior year at Great Bend High School.

When Jeannette graduated from high school in Holly, Colo., where her dad was serving as a Presbyterian minister, she said she checked out colleges and chose Fort Hays State "because I got the most financial aid here."

So she came to Kansas to major in vocal music and met her future husband at FHSU, where they both played in the legendary Lyle Dilley bands. Following graduation, they spent their careers as music teachers at levels ranging from elementary school to college -- and passing on their passion for music to their three children.

Clint served as band director at Hays High School from 1973-82, and both he and his wife continued to help out at FHSU's summer music camp.

Now, they are both looking forward to being involved in the camp once again, this time from a different perspective.

Clint and Jeannette plan to return for tonight's concert by Allen Vizzutti, an international trumpeter and jazz clinician from Seattle.

But they but won't be back again until Saturday's student concerts because even in retirement, the Raynes couple remains actively involved in music. Clint is the director of the Garden City Municipal Band, where Jeannette plays the flute and piccolo. During the summer months, the band practices on Thursday evenings for a Friday night concert each week.

But Jeannette said she knows they will continue coming to the music camp for several more years. Delaney's younger sister, 10-year-old Calli, will be old enough to participate next year. And they have a younger brother, Jury, who is 4.

"Oh, I'm sure he will be interested in coming," said Jeannette, who gives music an A-plus grade for "giving children such a unique team experience."

"There's no bench in music," she said in reference to other groups of multiple participants such as athletics. "In music, everybody participates, and everybody contributes to the success of the group."

Cutline: From left, Clint Raynes, Amy France, Jeannette Raynes and Delaney France are part of a three-generation family that has participated at FHSU's High Plains Music Camp during the past 50 years.

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