Preparing for another ritualistic venture to Three Sisters Park; I can’t keep myself from reminiscing about last year. The whole experience was crazy, everything about it – from deciding to enter and making the video to announcing moe.’s first set. Entering the Camp Counselor 2012 Contest wasn’t even my idea to begin with – my friend randomly suggested it and I thought to myself “why not?” In all honesty I NEVER expected to win when I sent in my original video. It didn’t help that I emailed it merely two hours before the deadline would turn any chances of it happening to zero.
Summer Camp had always been special to me for many reasons – Summer Camp was not only the first festival I ever went to, but it was also the one weekend of the year which I could spend with my old best friends from college. When I, rather incredulously, realized I made the first round of candidates the significance and meaning of the prize began to actualize. I realized that winning wasn’t just going to be sweet because of the prizes, but because I was going to have the opportunity to experience unique moments that are literally, and as David Byrne’s would say, “once in a lifetime.”
The competition was pretty fierce. I was up against some great people; they all were smart, interesting and suited for the role. Luckily I had some good friends on my team and we fought harder and harder on each round. By the time it came down to the final three I even had my family in South America voting and telling their friends to vote as well. When the announcement was made and I read on the Facebook post that I won, I had to re-read it several times. It was exciting – I was going to get to meet and announce moe., interview some great people, and sit side stage for some great shows; the anticipation began to grow.
Within a few weeks I was finally on the trip to Peoria to be the 2012 Summer Camp Counselor. As soon as we put that rockstar parking pass on the rearview mirror and parked right next to the VIP entrance, I knew that weekend was going to be epic. Out of the many years of attendance, last year was the first time I had someone drive up to the car in a golf cart and take us (and our bags) up to our campsite. For the first time out of the many years of attendance I walked up to the backstage entrance behind the moonshine stage and demonstrated my “I can go back here pass.” I was nervous and terrified because I was going to announce moe.’s first set in about half an hour. Then I see Rob sitting in a golf cart, chillin behind his black sunglasses and he can see I’m nervous and I tell him why. “Oh you’ll be fine, it’s easy.” I smiled and said “Yeah, coming from someone who has just a bit more experience…”
The entire weekend was a blur of hectic sweetness. I couldn’t believe that suddenly it was Sunday. In those four days I had gotten to watch moe., Gigantic Underground Conspiracy and Umphrey’s sidestage. I got to partake in Wavy Dave’s birthday festivities and watch his cake melt in the 100 degree weather. I sat and spoke to Vinnie who gave me some drums instruction. I had the opportunity to interview the members of Gigantic Underground Conspiracy, G. Love, Wavy Dave and Kinetix. Umphrey’s signed their names to a poster which now hangs on my wall. The best moments however, were those unscheduled interactions with the people that make the festival what it is –getting insights and wisdom from Vinnie and Rob, singing Happy Birthday to Wavy Dave, talking to Ian, Rex, Holly, Danny, Graham, Nick, the Counselors in Training and the regular festival attendees who posed for pictures and gave me their personal take on the event.
Being Camp Counselor also experienced the festival in completely new way; in my effort to capture the energy of the festival, I met more people, took more pictures, and saw more varied bands than any other year. Looking back on it all I wish I had done even more. There is no real way you can prepare for the experience however, and it all happens so fast there isn’t much time to stop and plan. I wish I could relive the entire experience with the experience of it under my belt, but I can’t. All I can do is sit and reminisce about the wonderful 2012 Summer Camp weekend and smile knowing that it all actually happened.
It could happen to you too…YOU could be one of the few people on this Earth who get to live Summer Camp in this exceptional way…but you will never know unless you try.
Congrats to Kyle Hess, Camp Counselor 2013!!
For the rest of you: Start thinking of your 2014 Camp Counselor Video!!
See you soon!!
moe. - The most amazing thing about this whole experience was getting to meet some of the artists that I so admire. As a fan, one tends to think that there is this detachment between the performers and the audience – that they live in a different world made of stars. The first time I was behind the moe. stage on Friday, waiting for the big moment when I would have to get up on that stage and announce their first set, Rob Derhak came up to me and told me not to be nervous; he talked to me and helped stop my knees from shaking like maracas. Vinnie and Al were also so kind and gave me words of encouragement. Ever since that first time, whenever I saw them I was greeted and treated like any other person. I used to love moe. for their music, but getting to know how kind, sweet and funny they are makes me love them even moe.
Wavy Dave - After their day set on Friday, despite having jammed hard in the blazing heat, Wavy was kind enough to sit down with me and let me ask him a few questions. He is super nice and SO talented, he plays like a million instruments! The next day was his birthday; HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! And I was allowed to tag along to the celebration. It was really cool to be able to see the gathering and sing happy birthday. What was funny was that it was so hot that the icing was melting and the cake was falling apart as he blew out the candles; but it still looked delicious!
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy – I had the awesome opportunity to do an interview with Chris Michetti, Ben Baruch, Dominic Lalli, Jeremy Salken, Marc Brownstein, and Araon Magner, and it was hilarious. Again, that imaginary distance that one imagines exists between the artists and fan disappeared and we spent a great deal of time talking as if they weren’t big stars they are; I mean we discussed socks for like 5 minutes! These guys acted like they were brothers, and they were SO funny. I have no words to express how happy I am that I had the chance to meet them and spend some time with them. Please, check out the interview video and see for yourself!
G-Love - G Love is a very cool, very laid back guy. This was the first year we were able to catch his set so it was a little embarrassing going into the interview with him, since I didn’t know much about him. However, he was super awesome and made it very easy for me to get a great interview. His blue eyes are mesmorizing and he really has a great way with words. The story of how his career started is extremely interesting so don’t miss the video!
Kinetix – I was super excited to catch Kinetix for the first time – and they didn’t let me down; they played a great show and afterwards I went up to them and asked them if they didn’t mind doing an interview (make sure to watch it!) and they were so cool about it. The band consists of Adam Lufkin, Eric Blumfield, George Horn, Jordan Linit, and Josh Fairman. Another great group of guys, they were funny and it was a pleasure to meet them. This was their second year at Summer Camp and I hope they keep coming back.
Sun Stereo – I finally got to meet this band, which I have been interested in for a long time. They are locals from Urbana and have a very distinct sound that you have to hear. The main group consists of Kelly McMorris, Josh Houchin, and Jesse Greenlee but they brought some friends to add to the music with trumpets. They were all very sweet and Kelly has a great smile. Don’t miss out; check them out and the interview too!
Well folks, we did it. And as a Summer Camp veteran, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this was possibly the best Summer Camp yet! Here are the top 10 things I loved about this year….
1. Nobody’s set got rained out this year. Whew!
2. The collective screams of approval when Umprey’s McGee started playing Tom Sawyer.
3. Moe. and Umphrey’s light shows. Duh. I mean, you can be stone cold sober looking at those things and still be in a total trance.
4. The look of joy on some guy’s face when I told him he could have my extra Saturday late-night wristband for free.
5. The dude taking a dump in a bucket right underneath the Moonshine stage arch. (Hey, I didn’t say these were pleasant memories, but that will surely not be forgotten!)
6. A dog named Akimbo. I have no idea what his owner’s name was, but I ran into Akimbo easily 6 times this festival and he always was having fun!
7. Water guns. Everywhere, all the time, all shapes and sizes.
8. Sunrise kickball with Ryan Stasik.
9. Warren Haynes sit-in with G. Love & Bob Weir sit-in with Primus. Absolutely fantastic.
10. When I got back into Chicago, I saw 3 separate groups of Scampers within 5 blocks of my house. That’s the thing about Summer Camp – you take it home with you.
Until next year, loves.