Van Buren School District junior high students are taking part in a week-long band camp to culminate in a public block party and concert on Friday at Butterfield Trail Middle School.

Students who will be in the seventh and eighth grades next year are taking part in the yearly camp to help them develop their musical skills, said Brad Reeves, a Van Buren School District band director.

Participating in the VBSD band camp also comes at a much lower cost for the students.

Students pay $15 for the entire week, which covers breakfast and lunch each day, a T-shirt and a lanyard with their name, grade and instrument, Reeves said.

"If they were to go to a camp like this at a university, it would be about $350 to $500 for the week," Reeves said.

Camp organizers are able to keep costs down because they are funded in part by the Van Buren School District Education Foundation, donations from alumni and help from volunteers.

"What really keeps the cost down is the Van Buren band staff volunteering their time," Reeves said. "They give an entire week of their vacation to the kids."

This year there are 265 students taking part in the band camp, Reeves said. The students are split into two camps at Butterfield Trail and Northridge middle schools, he said.

High school band students apply and are interviewed to take part as counselors for the junior high kids, he said.

"It’s a good real life experience for them," Reeves said.

During the camp, students are able to perform music that their classes have little time for during the school year and hone their musical skills.

A block party and outdoor concert will be held the last day of the camp on Friday. There will be food and activities for kids beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the concert will be 7-8 p.m., Reeves said.