Camp Counselor Ashlee’s Summer Camp 2021 Diary

(Photo of Ashlee Czapla by Tara Gracer)

A swift summer breeze kisses your sunburnt shoulders courtesy of
dancing carlessly in the sun from dawn to dusk.

On Shakedown Street, Uncle Randy dashes by in a fabulous flurry of laughter and bubbles in a pink Barbie Jeep and matching pink tutu.

Cheers erupt across Three Sisters as the sun sets and the Moonshine Stage comes alive with lights and music.

LED lights twinkle in the distance and illuminate the woods to help SCampers find, frolic, and stumble their ways back to camp.


Summer Camp Music Festival, it felt so damn good to return to you this year.

2020 was a wildly unpredictable year (to put things lightly) and although Jay Goldberg Events was still able to put together the Summer Camp Virtual Festival: A 20 Year Retrospective in its place, there’s no substitute for getting down in the dirt with a couple thousand friends at Three Sisters Park. Luckily, with the release of various COVID vaccinations and with additional safety measures in place, Summer Camp Music Festival came back after a 1.5-year hiatus even bigger and better than before.

Summer Camp celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and it was my sixth year of attending and my fourth year returning as a Camp Counselor. The Camp Counselor team consists of a media-minded menagerie of music fanatics who are passionate about SCamp and work year-long to create content, share event updates and inside scoops and contribute to on-site magic in a number of different ways.

#SCamp20 and was hands down my favorite year of Summer Camp yet. From the on-site upgrades to the music, to my camp (shout-out Camp Homebody) – every moment of every day was filled with good times, great music, and even better people. It had been two years since attending my last festival (SCamp 2019) and I wanted to do the weekend up big, so for the first time ever I took almost an entire week off work to dedicate to SCamp. Read on to hear my highlights from that week and a recap of Summer Camp’s triumphant return.

 
Tuesday, August 17 

Monday and Tuesday were the only days I worked the week of Summer Camp.  Despite the fact that I’m always the camp planner and Type A (to a fault), I always find myself last-minute packing. Even though Camp Counselors Alex and Rob put together a Summer Camp Comprehensive Packing Guide this year to make things easier, I still found myself packing into the wee hours of the night on Monday making sure I got all my googly eyes, glitter, and other camping essentials packed up and squared away. 

On Tuesday, I worked from home 8-5, sporadically adding more nonsense and camping gear to my Summer Camp pile throughout the day. I currently live in Colorado and planned to fly to Summer Camp this year and was lucky enough to have roommates who were driving to SCamp and camping with me who could take my larger bags and a dozen or so of my Squishmallows (they were necessary to fill the kiddie pool we had at our camp this year).

Despite the work day being hectic it still found a way to drag itself on but I eventually made it onto my flight and was headed back home to Illinois. My dad picked me up from the O’hare airport and we talked about my plans for the weekend and the music I was looking forward to seeing the whole way home. 

I was almost able to convince my dad who came to Summer Camp for his first time in 2019 for Sunday funday to come again, but my parents had just gotten a puppy and so he decided to stay home to supervise. I’d really like to dedicate this digital moment to a shout-out to both of my amazing parents who I credit entirely for my love of music (especially live music), festivals, and traveling.

Once we made it back to my hometown of little ole’ Lake Zurich, my dad presented me with an assortment of camping gadgets he’d been compiling for me to take when I headed off to Three Sisters the next day. The tent fan he loaned me was a game-changer, which I may or may not have kept for myself (I’m a sorry dad). After a quick parental pep-talk about the weekend, he encouraged me to get some sleep. For once, I obliged. 

 
Wednesday, August 18

Luckily for me, Camp Counselor Derek had recently moved to my hometown of Lake Zurich and was kind enough to pick me up and give me a ride to Summer Camp. Derek is one of the only people I personally know who has been to all 20 years of Summer Camp and also manages the SCamp podcast. You can listen to part one of his Summer Camp recap on the SCamp podcast here.

Once Derek and I arrived on-site and checked in at the staff headquarters, we met up with the rest of our team for a Camp Counselor cookout and to welcome this year’s Camp Counselor recruits Allyce and Sydney to the team. The grill master of the cookout was Camp Counselor Kevin Schwartz who is a master behind a video camera and was promoted as the Camping Stage’s video production manager this year. (You can check out the first installations of his new Around the Campfire series on Boogie T.rio and SaxSquatch now!)

Wednesday was really just meant for catching up and hanging with the team. At midnight, the Camp Counselor team went out to the GA line that had been growing throughout the evening to show a preview of Camp Counselor Nick Stock’s Summer Camp documentary “Summer Camp Coming Home” which is rumored to be premiering sometime in 2022.

The documentary is a work of love that got me all up in my feels as I watched artists, Summer Camp legends, and some of the amazing people who make this festival happen share their SCamp memories and talk about how much the event has grown over the years. 

And that’s when it really started to hit me. We were back at Three Sisters. The Summer Camp pre-party started tomorrow. It was all happening.

Falling asleep that night felt like trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve when you’re a little kid. I did what I could to calm my excitement and encourage myself to sleep and eventually dozed off finding peace in the fact that tomorrow was just day one of what was about to be a long, and much-anticipated weekend.  

SCamp Counselor Tip: There’s definitely a time and place for all-nighters, but try to get as much sleep as you can the night before a festival. To the Wednesday night warriors who race to be the first in line for the Thursday Pre-Party and rage through Sunday – I salute you.

 
Thursday, August 19

I did what I could to sleep in but still found myself awake and up and at ‘em before 8 AM. I had never been on-site so early before and it was surreal being at Summer Camp without other SCampers. I couldn’t resist taking a lap in the fog-ridden grounds while things were still quiet and calm. 

(Photo of Jellyfish Swings)

As I walked around the eerily serene venue, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude and started to tear up (aka cried). There were so many things to be grateful for. Grateful to finally be going to a festival again. Grateful to specifically be at Summer Camp and that the festival was able to happen this year. And grateful to contribute in a small way to this amazing event by returning as part of the Camp Counselor Team.

I explored the grounds for about an hour, reminiscing over the past 6 years I’ve been attending the festival. It’s amazing to be a part of something I love so deeply and to see it change shape over the years. After just one lap around Three Sisters, I could see how much effort was being put into upgrading the grounds and I knew that SCamp’s 20th anniversary was going to be an unforgettable weekend – particularly to those who had been to Summer Camp before who were about to experience the festival in an entirely new way. 

SCamp Counselor Tip: get acquainted with venue grounds the first day you arrive. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with where the stages, bathrooms, med tent, and water stations are.

After collecting myself and returning from my walk, I headed back to where the Camp Counselors were to devise a plan with Camp Counselor Kayla.  SCamp staff that arrives prior to the pre-party attendees are asked to refrain from setting up camps until 30 minutes before the pre-party gates open at 11 AM, so we had a little bit of a time advantage but not much.  Once we reached the 30-minute countdown to the gates opening, I invited Camp Counselor Kayla and her (now) fiance to join forces to save a campsite in the woods and to camp with myself and my Summer Camp crew, Camp Homebody.

With their help, we secured my favorite Summer Camp campsite I’ve experienced to date. 

(Photo of Camp Homebody mailbox)

After Kayla, her fiance Andy and I secured our campsite I went out the VIP line to meet up with some of my friends who were joining our camp to help navigate them to our camp. Once the gang started to settle in, we had some time before the pre-party music started.

Lettuce’s set on Thursday ended up being one of my favorite Lettuce sets to date (and I love me some fresh, crunchy Lettuce). Perhaps it was the fact that their show was my first festival set of music since 2019, perhaps it was the energy of the crowd, or maybe it was just the fact that every single member of Lettuce threw the funk down during that set the entire funkin’ time. Either way, I found myself in physical pain from smiling so hard and dancing so hard during that set. We were really, really back at Summer Camp. 

Next up: The Floozies. This brother duo has been a funky favorite of mine for a long time. The Floozies are from Kansas City, Missouri and since I attended college at the University of Missouri I was lucky enough to catch a few shows of theirs every year during my college days. While The Floozies always bring the funk and keep the energy high, I was blown away by how hard they crushed this pre-party set. Something must have been in the air at Three Sisters that day because every set had something extra special about it. 

SCamp Counselor Tip: Getting a Thursday Pre-Party pass is a no-brainer. At a fraction of the cost of a typical single-day festival ticket, it grants you admission to Three Sister’s Park an entire day early. Plus, there are a ton of advantages to getting into the festival first and beating the bigger crowds. (Not to mention the MUSIC!)

Thursday was just the beginning. Tomorrow, the rest of Camp Homebody would arrive and the weekend would really be kicked into high gear. I encouraged everyone to go to bed early as a good camp-mom should on the first day of a festival and was admittedly surprised when everyone agreed and called it a night before it got too late.

Friday, August 20

That early morning sunshine at Summer Camp is no joke. (If you’ve camped in the field before, you know what I’m talking about). Thanks to arriving early, Camp Counselor Kayla and I were able to secure a campsite that was completely shaded and had power outlets (yes, that’s a thing at Three Sisters – in certain areas). Despite being in the shade and staying cool for once, my excitement for the weekend and curiosity to see how Three Sisters had transformed overnight jolted me out of bed early again. 

By Friday morning, all the art installations that were still evolving the day before had been completed and stood tall in all of their wonder. I was the most eager to go and check out one of the biggest additions to Summer Camp this year: the Illumination Woods.

The Illumination Woods was an entirely brand new area to Summer Camp and was one of my favorite upgrades that the festival made. For those who haven’t been SCamping before, the Illumination Woods was previously just a camping space. The new Illumination Stage also replaced the Camping Stage that used to be there which was a sweet spot for intimate sets, local bands, and lots of jams. This area was given a total makeover this year thanks to a creative team called Superfruit

The Illumination Woods truly added a whole new dynamic to the festival this year. A list of the different art installations that were set up in the Illumination Woods and their creators is below. 

  • Compass- Geomante
  • Mushroom- Eva Bruh & Don Mega
  • Alice In Wonderland- Eva Bruh
  • Kinetic Strings and Sculpture- Neural Patterns
  • Tunnel- BAM
  • Dome- SynerGeo
  • Wishing Well- Andres Acosta
  • Standing Structure- Michael Connolly 
  • Guardian of The Forest- Raquel Hung & Jeremy Steffen
  • Sunset Structure- Superfrüit

The Illumination Woods also housed a number of alcohol sponsors, The GoodBus stage, hammock space, and the infamous Frick Frack Blackjack Booth (if they ever make an appearance at an event near you – make sure to stop by. You will not regret it). 

(Photo of Illumination Woods by Aaron Bradley)

SCamp Counselor Tip: There’s much to see and experience at Summer Camp beyond the music! Expand your mind and enrich your soul by spending some time at the Soulshine Tent and SOULPATCH where you can participate in workshops and classes, see live glassblowing, explore art galleries, and more. 

After exploring the grounds and grabbing some breakfast, the Camp Counselor team met for a quick morning meeting, and then it quickly became time for the weekend’s first set of moe.! Out of respect, I encourage everyone to try to catch the first Friday moe. set to help kick off the weekend. It’s a Camp Counselor tradition to introduce moe.’s first set and each year,  one counselor is selected to do the honors. For the 20th anniversary of Summer Camp this year, it was only fitting that Camp Counselor Derek (who has proudly attended every single year of SCamp) was given that honor and delivered a truly warm welcome. 

After moe. I raced to the VIP Lounge to catch the debut of a set I had been looking forward to for months – the Floozies Emo Hour. If you get floozied frequently, then you know that Daniel Opperman (aka Trash Angel, formerly known as DJ Chicken Sandwich) is an integral part of the Floozies team behind-the-scenes and in this case, also on stage. The Emo Hour was his brainchild (shout out to sad boiz) and never have I ever walked into a crowd of people who were so excited to get so EMOTIONAL. 

Every single person in the VIP Lounge was belting out the words to every song and dancing their hearts out to every beat. It was like being at a middle school dance but with far fewer restrictions, way more fun, and way more alcohol. The Floozies brothers Mark and Matt were both a part of the set, but it was Danny boy who stole the show. I became friends with Daniel “back in the day” when I was still going to school in Missouri and while watching him thrive on stage was an amazing feeling- being a part of a sea of SCampers singing Mayday Parade and Paramore at the top of our lungs was the cathartic release I had been needing since COVID started.

After the Floozies Emo Hour, I scurried back to the Moonshine Stage to catch the bonus set of moe. that got added to Friday’s schedule as a fill-in for Lettuce. After that, I headed over to the Grassroots California booth to meet up with Camp Counselor Niki and her Sparkle Team for her 3rd annual Glam Camp. I’ve always described the Camp Counselor program as an opportunity to put your talents and passions to use at Summer Camp – and in this case, those talents were makeup, hair, and glitter. Together, we all set up stations to glamorize SCampers who passed by that were wanting a little extra pizazz. After meeting lots of new friends and a few hundred thousand specks of biodegradable glitter, the glam camp concluded in a scamp fashion show. 

After the Glam Camp, I boogied on over to the Campfire Stage to catch Boogie T.rio and then sent it over to the Starshine Stage to watch Maddy O’Neal absolutely slay her set. After Maddy’s goosebump-inducing performance at the Starshine Stage, she went on to perform another set at the VIP Lounge which I honestly could not miss after seeing her last set. 

Although I wanted to stay all of Maddy’s VIP set – there was no way I could miss both sets of Billy Strings so I high-tailed it to the Moonshine Stage and mozied my way up in the crowd where I found myself dumbstruck and completely enamored by Billy’s guitar. This was my first Billy Strings set (ever) and although it pained me to have to miss his first set, the second set was nothing short of pure magic and was quite possibly my favorite set of the weekend. 

I walked away from the Billy Strings set with a newfound love for his music and promised to myself that I would never miss a set of his when I had the chance again. I found myself walking to the next set slower than my average pace as I processed the set I had just seen and came to terms with the fact that I was about to become obsessed with seeing Billy Strings. 

While my feet wanted to take a break, I really wanted to go catch my friend Lev’s band at the illumination stage: Since Juleye. As a special treat, he had Brisco Jones join him on the turntables. Kevin Donohue of SunSquabi/Casual Commander joined on guitar, Borahm Lee of Break Science and Tyler Dondero from Exmag working their magic on the keys, and Jmac (Manic Focus) on the sub-phatty synth. I’m always down for a homie super jam and it’s always a joy to see the musical magic that friends are able to conjure up when at a place like Summer Camp.

After Since Juleye, I caught the very tail end of the Clozee B2B LSDream set (it always blows my mind how many musicians you can catch at Summer Camp in such a short amount of time), and then suddenly my phone was telling me that it was 2 AM and I found myself at the VIP Lounge again getting down to the Aqueous late-night set with some homies and Jason Gregory of Audiodacity. Although I prefer to camp in GA with all my homies – VIP is absolutely, without a doubt, hands down the way to experience SCamp for 101 reasons – including the late-night vibes. 

SCamp Counselor Tip: While getting to skip the GA entry line is worth the VIP upgrade alone – the other amenities are pretty badass, too. VIP upgrades include exclusive parking and camping spots, access to the VIP Lounge, SCamp merch, late-night Red Barn shows, and other perks. That being said – you can get a VIP upgrade and still camp with your homies in GA.

Admittedly, I used to get next to no sleep at festivals (I’m talking maybe 3 hours a night if I was behaving), but I’ve learned to party smarter, not harder during my last few years of attending festivals and forced myself to go back to camp and go to bed after the Aqueous show. Nowadays, I do my best to get at least 5 hours each night so I’m recharged for the morning. You know you’re putting in work when you hit your 10,000 steps mark at 3 AM.

Saturday, August 21

Blessed by the shade (and my dad’s tent fan) I was able to set a new personal record for how long I was able to sleep in at Summer Camp. I’m usually the first to wake up and start squirreling around at camp but was pleasantly surprised to find myself waking up around 11:30 am. 

Once I was up and ready, Kayla and I headed to the church (yes, the church) for our Camp Counselor meeting. These meetings usually act as a check-in for the team to touch base on the events happening that day and our planned projects. After the meeting, we stopped by Camp Homebody to rally the troops for the GRiZ Family Photo I was coordinating to happen at the Sunshine Stage before SunSquabi’s set. 

Truthfully, I’m always surprised at how many hippies I’m able to corral for a happening at Summer Camp, but the gang was all for it and plenty of familiar faces and new friends showed up for the photo.

(GRiZ Fam Photo by Tara Gracer)

Once the photo was over, it was all aboard the Squab Train! SunSquabi has been one of my favorite bands since 2016 and it has been nothing short of amazing to watch them skyrocket the last few years. Not only are they amazing musicians, but they are also amazing people who truly care about their fans and carefully consider how to create the best experiences for them. I spoke with the band earlier this year about their experience as a band during COVID and how they were able to safely keep the show on the road.

In all my years of attending SCamp, I’ve never seen such a solid turnout for a daytime set at the Sunshine stage. At this moment, I was at my favorite festival, listening to one of my all-time favorite bands surrounded by some of my all-time favorite people, and had to just let the tears flow. I’m a big fan of letting it all out, and happy crying while dancing to SunSquabi in an ocean of friends was truly better than therapy. 

After the set, I set up an interview with SunSquabi to talk with them about their experience as a band the past year, their love for Summer Camp, and why they keep coming back. Shout out to Camp Counselor Robert for filming the video interview which will eventually be debuting on The Campfire

The rest of Saturday continuously unfolded into more spectacular sets. Keller Williams and SunSquabi took the stage together and performed as KellerSquabi for the first time ever. The collaboration was Keller’s idea and was an opportunity the band knew they couldn’t pass up and lucky for us, they didn’t. I wish the set hadn’t conflicted with STS9’s because those who went to the entire STS9 show really missed out on some psychedelic magic (much with the help of JD Vanderweil on the visuals).

SCamp Counselor Tip: If an unusual or unexpected collaboration is ever going down, try your best to go and see some (if not all) of it. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance and you will 100% regret missing out on seeing a truly special set.

Keller Williams is one of my favorite bluegrass artists and SunSquabi is one of my favorite bands. Seeing them play together at my favorite festival while a friend did their lights was a magical moment for me. The Squabi boys and Keller both slayed the set and I stayed as long as I could until I had to pry myself away just in time to catch the sunset during STS9. 

STS9 is one of those bands that make you feel like you’re traveling through space and even after catching their three-night run in Colorado just the month before, this set was one of my favorite journeys that STS9 has taken me on. A dear friend of mine who caught more STS9 sets than anyone else I know even went as far as to say that this set was his favorite STS9 festival set to date (which truthfully means a lot coming from him). All in all, I walked away with the awareness that STS9 sunset sets were definitely my new kink.

I usually find myself solo adventuring for a majority of Saturday night because I LOVE moe. and their Saturday sets always inevitably overlap with the shows that most of my friends are trying to see. That being said, I usually find myself in good company no matter where I go or what I’m doing at Summer Camp and ended up catching the show with Camp Counselor Derek in the VIP section.

After moe. was Clozee’s solo set and dear god, is that woman is on fire. If you have not fallen in love with Clozee’s music yet – it is only a matter of time. 

After the music, I teamed up with Camp Counselor Robert for some Summer Camp ridiculousness in the form of SCamp Cab. If you’re familiar with Cash Cab, then picture that but with Summer Camp trivia. Rob drove the cart, and I sat on the back. We drove around Three Sisters and approached people who were walking solo or in pairs and innocently offered them free rides. Those who hopped on believing they were just getting a free ride to their next location, only to be informed that they had just entered the SCamp Cab and that they were absolutely entitled to the free ride we had offered – but only if they agreed to play some SCamp trivia in exchange for some prizes. 

There were different tiers of SCamp trivia questions and each tier had a different prize. If the rider’s trivia answer was incorrect – their ride stopped there. But if they got the trivia question correct, they were given a prize and were moved on to the next round for a chance to win additional prizes. The grand prize was a weekend pass to Summer Camp 2022, which one lucky person was able to win by answering five rounds of scamp trivia questions correctly. 

Socializing and being silly are two of my favorite things, and getting to do so at Summer Camp with unassuming SCampers proved to be more fun than I could have imagined. This year was the debut of the SCamp Cab, and I have a solid feeling that you might just be able to catch us offering free rides again next year.

Sunday, August 22

About a month before Summer Camp, a man named Jeremy reached out to me on Facebook asking for my help. Jeremy knew I was involved with Summer Camp and had a favor to ask and a hunch that I could help. He let me know that he and his fiancee Rosalva planned to get married at Summer Camp on Sunday and that they had a whole wedding party that planned to be there. My help was enlisted to help make their special day as special as possible. 

Jeremy, Rosalva, and I agreed that the Illumination Woods would be the perfect place for them to have the wedding ceremony. I started my Sunday by meeting up with Jeremy and his wedding party in the illumination woods as they set everything up for the ceremony. The ceremony was short, small, and oh so sweet. The wonderful photographer Tara Gracer was also in attendance to capture the wedding and the newlywed’s first kiss.  Jeremy and Rosalva’s closest friends and family members were in attendance, as well as a few extra SCampers who were excited to witness the two say their vows in a flurry of bubbles and smiles. 

(Photo of First Kiss as Married Couple by Tara Gracer)

I had a chance to talk with Jeremy and Rosalva about how they met and fell in love, and Jeremy confessed that he knew she was the one when he took her to her first Summer Camp and she immediately felt right at home, took her shoes off and danced the weekend away with him. Music is a really powerful thing and music-induced love stories are my absolute favorite (possibly because I’m currently living out one of my own).

After the wedding, I caught a little bit of Keller Williams (not a shabby way to start a Sunday afternoon). It also happened to be one of my best friend/Summer Camp partner-in-crime Brittany’s birthday, so she corralled some of the Camp Homebody crew to go to MK Ultra at the Illumination Stage. There was plenty of hootin’, hollerin’, and dancin’ at MK Ultra which warmed me up for catching some Umphrey’s with my dear friend/Umphreak, Cole. 

The rest of the afternoon was going to be jam-packed with music (never miss a Sunday at Summer Camp) so I did my best to stay in the shade and take it easy as possible. 

(Photo of Sunday Music Menu)

Summer Camp Music Festival has grown so much over the past 20 years from the layout of the actual venue itself, the types of artists and genres that are booked, the stages themselves and not to mention – the stage production. I think it’s important for those who love seeing live music and attending these types of events to realize all of the different people responsible for making it happen. From booking to artist management, tour management, lighting production, sound engineering. It’s amazing how much of a production a festival truly is. 

This year at Summer Camp, one of my good friends Chandler Thoman who is the lighting designer for The Floozies, Manic Focus, Buku, SunSquabi and Beats Antique (just to name his current projects). Over the summer, Chandler upgraded and expanded his lazers and teamed up with an investor to launch his own company: GT Lazers

If you attended Summer Camp this year, there’s a 99% you saw some lazer sorcery courtesy of this guy as he had lasers on the Sunshine and the Starshine Stage and did the lights and lasers for The Floozies, SunSquabi, Rezz, Subtronics and supplied a laser or two for GRiZ. Stay tuned to the Summer Camp Facebook page for the coming video interview and a glimpse into the life of a front-of-house wizard. 

After the interview, I linked up with SunSquabi’s tour manager aka one of my favorite human beings aka my boyfriend, Andrew Frost, and went to see Three 6 Mafia with some of the SunSquabi crew and a few Camp Homebody members. Not going to lie – I wish I had napped during this set instead of needing to take an emergency nap during Ween but it was the set that Frost had been looking forward to the most and getting to see a set with him was one of the highlights of my weekend. 

About that emergency nap – it was nothing of concern, but come Sunday afternoon my body suddenly realized that I had been running around for five days and I’ve always sucked at drinking enough water (shout out to H20). An hour-long nap, a grilled cheese, and a smoothie did me wonders. Although I was bummed that I missed most of Ween and napped during all of Tipper, I was able to make it to the Sunshine Stage just in time to catch the last 15 minutes of Ween and their “Your Party” encore. 

SCamp Counselor Tip: Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion just to catch a set. Party smarter, not harder. Remember, water = good. 

After Ween was Sunday night moe. and while Saturday night moe. is always a party, I have a sweet spot for the Sunday moe sets. Had it not been for GRiZ playing during moe’s second set (who has been my favorite artist/producer since 2012) I would have dedicated my night to the Moonshine Stage. Fortunately/unfortunately, GRiZ’s performance only overlapped with moe. ‘s second set so I made the pilgrimage to the Sunshine Stage with Camp Homebody, some GRiZ Fam, and a couple thousand other friends. 

I guarantee I could rant and rave about GRiZ for longer than you’d like, but I must say that I’ve been having the absolute time of my life the last 9 years falling in love with GRiZ’s music and traveling with friends to see him perform across the country. I’m always amazed and in awe, by the way, his project evolves over time: from the way GRiZ’s sound has transformed to the ways his actual show, stage presence, and production have also grown in magnitude year over year over year.

(Photo of crowd during GRiZ by Tara Gracer)

I spent half of the show with my GRiZ Fam squad dancing in the crowd as close to the stage as we could get while still having enough room to comfortably dance. I didn’t see a person in that crowd without a smile on their face as my friends and I sang every word to every song and damn near danced ourselves out of our shoes. These are the moments that I live for. These are the moments that I will remember forever. 

Post-GRiZ, I went back to Camp Homebody to give my feet a break and spend some time with the gang, my boyfriend, and the SunSquabi crew before the weekend came to an end. There was a renegade stage set up in the woods near our camp and we all laughed and drank and shared stories well into the morning as different bands played freestyle jams until the sun came up. 

Monday, August 23

Sunday nights quickly turn into Monday morning at Summer Camp and I always do my best to squeeze every last second out of SCamp.

I borrowed a golf cart Monday morning and spent a few hours circling the GA campgrounds offering free rides to the front gate to those who were packing up early and looked like they could use an extra hand. 

One of the highlights of that morning was ground scoring a family of three with a ton of camping gear from the farthest corner of the fields. The son, who was probably 7 years, eagerly hopped up front with me and told me all about his weekend, how he got to hear his favorite STS9 song, and how thankful he was that I had offered his family a ride that morning because his parents were “totally about to have a hard time” and that he didn’t have the energy to help them either. Gotta love the honesty. 

While I was offering rides, I had my handy dandy festival yearbook with me which is something that I started during the first year that I attended Summer Camp. I’ve brought this book around with me to almost every festival I’ve attended since then and it is filled with inside jokes, insights, solicited and unsolicited advice, confessions, and absolute nonsense. Everyone who got a golf cart ride from me that morning had to sign the yearbook, or else. 

I stopped by Chandler’s RV to find him and our friends being absolutely debaucherous (queue the 8 AM tequila shots and dance party) when someone mentioned that a rainstorm was headed our way. Although the RV vibes were immaculate, I knew I had to dash back to Camp Homebody to wake everyone up and help pack things up. 

Although packing up and going home is my least favorite part of any festival, I golf carted back to camp with the biggest grin on my face. Summer Camp’s 20th anniversary was by far my favorite year of SCamp so far and I knew this year’s post-SCamp glow was going to take a while to wear off. 

In true festival fashion, when I got back to camp I discovered that a stranger had fallen asleep there overnight, a wagon had gone missing and a few friends had already left and were on their journeys home. Reality always hits hard the Monday-morning after a festival and as much as I wanted to linger a little longer, I had a flight to catch and group of people waiting on me. I kicked it into high-gear and helped pack up camp, reunited with Frost and the Squabi boys, and left Three Sisters feeling dustier and happier than ever. 

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Summer Camp is the best fest in the Midwest and being a Camp Counselor is hands-down the most fun job I’ve ever had. I’m honored to be a part of the SCamp team and don’t plan to stop SCampin’ anytime soon.

SCamp Counselor Tip: After experiencing all the on-site upgrades and additions this year, I’m even more excited for #SCamp22. Do yourself a solid and scoop your tickets before the next tier goes live here! (Payment plans are available and you deserve that VIP upgrade you’ve been thinking about.)

All my love & see you all in just a few short months, 

Camp Counselor Ashlee