Nearly 200 campers at the Circle V Ranch Camp and Retreat Center spent a portion of last week fashioning decorative flutes out of PVC pipe to give to other children living half a world away.

Merging craftsmanship, cultural understanding and humanitarian intent, "Flutes Across the World" is the brainchild of John Zeretzke, who created the program to connect children around the globe through art and music.

"This is my third year at Circle V," said Zeretzke, a resident of Fillmore, who retools his typical eight-hour session into three-hour sessions for the kids at the camp.

Under Zeretzke's tutelage and supervision, campers sanded, shaped, decorated and learned not only the history of flutes, but also how to play them. Each camper produced two flutes, one to keep and one to give away to a child in the Philippines.

"Each child learns something about the culture of where their flute will be going and writes a personal note," said Zeretzke. The note typically explains what went into designing the flute and tells about the child who created it.

At a future date, Zeretzke will accompany the give-away flutes on a good-will mission to the Philippines.

"At the other end, the children who receive these flutes will learn how to play them and learn of the culture of the American children who made them," said Zeretzke. "I also have them write a note back to the child who made the flute they received. It is a fantastic way to bring children together."

Along with those in the Phillippines, "Flutes Around the World" has benefited children living in Haiti and Honduras. Zeretzke has more recently added children of the Apache Nation in Arizona and the Lakota Nation in Nebraska and South Dakota to those on the receiving end.

An award-winning composer and classically trained violinist, Zeretzke is a multi-instrumentalist and student of traditional music.

The Circle V Ranch and Retreat Center is operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Los Angeles and has been located on its current site, just across from Cachuma Lake off of Hwy. 154, since 1990.

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