My Page for the Junior Conservatory Camp (1952? - 1971)

AND it still exists as The Walden School - every summer since 1972!

Manor Vail, Lyndon Center, VT
Manor Vail (my photo - 1962)

Lyndon State College, Lyndon Center, VT

"Manor Vail" (pictured above) was built as the summer home of Theodore Vail, the visionary who worked with Alexander Graham Bell in setting the groundwork for the national telephone network. It was a wonderful place for the camp to meet each summer for many years. Then for several summers in the late 1960s until 1972, the camp met at the lovely former home of the Darling family known as Burklyn (between Mt. Burke and Lyndonville). The Burklyn estate is pictured below.

The Burklyn Mansion
Burklyn Estate, East Burke, VT (my photo - mid-1960s)

In later years, the Burklyn Arts Council was established to promote the flourishing life of music and the arts in the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont. A founder of the Arts Council was Mrs. Elizabeth Brouha, who had been a very good friend and was a benefactor of the Junior Conservatory Camp over many years.

  • The Junior Conservatory Camp, which existed from the early 1950's until 1971 was an extraordinary summer music school for young musicians (ages 12-18) which met in Vermont and ran for 6 or 7 weeks each summer. Meeting in several locations over the years, its longest venues were at the "Manor Vail" estate, which housed the Lyndon State Teachers College in the winters, and then in the last few years at "Burklyn," the estate of the Darling Family in East Burke, Vt.

  • The Junior Conservatory was inspired and directed by Mrs. Grace Newsom Cushman, a long-time teacher at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, MD.

  • At the heart of the Junior Conservatory curriculum was Mrs. Cushman's Musicianship course which emphasized music theory and modal harmony for her students at the Peabody program and for the young people at the camp.

  • The primary musical thrust of the camp was neither instrumental instruction nor performance but creativity in musical composition. Each week the entire camp gathered in the main lobby for the Composers Forum. Moderated by faculty members or visiting distinguished composers, students and faculty would present compositions that they completed that week and receive immediate and always-helpful feedback from the group. It was one of the most significant educational experiences for everyone, from the youngest student to the most experienced professional faculty member, to add their comments and reactions to the pieces that were presented.

  • In the 1960s the camp also featured a strong component of Modern Dance (inspired by the school of the great Martha Graham). Both of Mrs. Cushman's daughters, Georgia and Flora, worked and studied with Martha Graham in New York City and brought her wonderful technique to the dance program of the Junior Conservatory.

  • Adding to the joy of the classes, the Forums, the dance program, and the general love of being with such a creative and inspiring group for weeks in the summer, the camp would take the day each Saturday to climb one of the beautiful mountains of northern New England. Starting with the modest climb of nearby Burke Mountain, they would then tackle such peaks as Mt. Pisgah, Jay Peak, Camel's Hump, Mount Mansfield (Vermont's highest peak), and conclude the summer with the climb of Mt. Washington!

  • It became a strong tradition that students (and faculty/staff members) would look forward throughout every year to returning to "camp" in the summer. Many of the friendships that developed since the 1950s have been maintained to this day and are deep and abiding.

  • The Walden School, started by some of the Junior Conservatory students is an outgrowth of the Camp meeting each summer and maintaining the same wonderful tradition of creativity and support that had been fostered over the years. Directed by Seth Brenzel since 2003, the school boasts an outstanding faculty and staff (see the current and recent listing at Last summer (2014) there are 22 faculty and staff and 60 students from around the world participating in the Young Musicians Program (YMP). The Musicianship program of Mrs. Cushman's creation has been further developed into a very special collection of books by faculty at Walden. The Walden School YMP, its Teachers Training Institute, and its Creative Musicians Retreat now meet at the beautiful campus of the Dublin School, Dublin, NH, where the YMP has met for the past 31 years.

Rainbow over Walden School

On the Dublin School campus - Current home of Walden

  • And yes -- they still climb mountains!!

3013 Walden School at Mt. Manadnock

The 2013 Walden School Group at the summit of Mt. Manodnock, NH.

  • The Walden and Junior Conservatory alumni/ae website, formerly called "" is now being folded in with the regular Walden web site, It will be fully functional soon. It has a wealth of information for and about students and faculty who have been at either the Junior Conservatory or the Walden School over the years. It features a special collection of photographs from the last 60 or so years of the program.

  • In 2002, in 2007 and again in 2012, there was a reunion of Junior Conservatory and Walden students in Dublin where long-time friendships have been nurtured and wonderful memories have been strengthened. Here is a picture from the most recent reunion.

2012 Junior Conservatory/Walden School Reunion at the Dublin School

2012 Junior Conservatory/Walden School Reunion at Dublin, NH.

  • Click for some fond pictoral memories of Flora Day Cushman (d. April 12, 2014 in Germany).

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