Photo by Emma Kolodziej
What’re you doing Memorial Day weekend?
That’s a question I haven’t had to think about for the past four years. The answer is easy: Summer Camp Music Festival, duh!
Come rain or shine, I know I will always be celebrating the holiday weekend dancing away at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Illinois. After all, I need my fill of four to five Umphrey’s McGee sets. I’ve been craving those steamy chorizo buns all year, and I can’t wait to be reunited with all my friends from all over the country. For me, it’s the ideal way to start off the festival season.
This year was no different, except for the exciting new title I was able to hold as Summer Camp Counselor!
But what exactly does a Summer Camp Counselor do? I must’ve gotten that question a hundred times over the course of the weekend. My short answer: make sure everyone is having the best time possible. However, that doesn’t quite give this program justice. The individuals chosen, through an application process, are some of the most creative and musically knowledgable scampers there are.
Some are squeezing their way through a dancing crowd to get the best shot of your favorite band. Some are the plug for those ticket discounts. Some are getting to know artists that are just on the brink of blowing up. Some are recommending sets you won’t want to miss. Some are capturing an unreal surprise guest on stage so you can rewatch over and over later. However, we are all there to contribute a positive note to the joyful memories accumulated each SCamp.
As for me, while I chose to focus on the many interactive programs Summer Camp has set up. With so much great music, activities such as archery, kickball and glass blowing can be overlooked. However, these are truly unique experiences that can spark new friendships and hobbies. Those who participated in the glass blowing workshop were even able to take home a handmade glass pendant!
Soulpatch, the environmental workshop area in Three Sisters Park provided information on beekeeping and allowed sampling of homemade honey. There were guitar circles speaking about how to get involved with local environmental groups.
Raffles for prizes were also held for “Make A Difference” which is a program of volunteers giving raffle tickets to festival goers who were making a positive impact. I think that program really demonstrates what Summer Camp is all about. It’s more than just the music, but the camaraderie of sharing common interests with strangers and friends alike that makes all the difference.
Overall, my experience as a camp counselor gave me insights to the many workings that go into the management of a music festival. From the visual aspects, social media engagements and overall fluidity of maintaining safety and fun for all, running a music festival is no easy feat!
Oteil and Friends
This was the number one set of the weekend for me. It’s been a while since I’ve sat in complete awe during a full set, but that was the case for Oteil and Friends. Seeing an extremely talented group of musicians all coming together to play Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, The Beatles and more was absolutely timeless. That was a set I’ll be telling my children about when I’m old and grey.
Umphrey’s McGee Friday Second Set
Fifteen years ago Umphrey’s McGee came out with their first album recorded with drummer Kris Myers, it is titled Anchor Drops. For umphreaks like myself it’s a fan favorite filled with great songs that the boys tend to pull out from for sets. With a new special vinyl press release of the album to celebrate the anniversary, one could expect some killer jams from the album during S’Camp weekend. We certainly weren’t expecting to receive Anchor Drops in full!
This was my favorite new artist find of the weekend. I had a friend recommend Ford. and while his set overlapped Big Gigantic, we decided it was time to check out some new music. I’m so glad we did because for just 19 years old, the kid has some serious raw talent as a producer. The set was dreamy, downtempo chill step and exactly what I needed.
Andy Frasco and the U.N.
The award for the wildest set of the weekend has to go to Andy Frasco and the U.N. The songs are catchy and fun but the true highlight to a Frasco set is the engagement between Andy and the crowd. He brought a fan dressed as Gumby on stage to demonstrate sexual intercourse dance moves. Then there was the epic crowd surfing race between Andy Frasco and Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic. At one point he even had the crowd join hands for an epic rendition of Hava Nagila. It’s fair to say I will never experience another set like that again.
Overall, I’d say we got pretty lucky this year! The weather was surprisingly manageable, a blessing compared to the expected storms all weekend. There were unforgettable sets from some of the best artists in the industry, and we were able to experience it all with friends and family a like. That’s enough to keep my post-festival glow shining until next year!