A look ahead at Summer Camp Music Festival 2015
Billi Jo Hart
Summer Camp Music Festival (SCAMP) is a four-day event that takes place in Chillicothe, Ill. over Memorial Day weekend. For many veteran SCAMP attendees, this is a well anticipated event many look forward to all year long. SCAMP attendees are welcomed to Three Sister’s Park to camp-out, listen to music, browse various artists and hangout with friends.
Many artists walk throughout the festival displaying their work for others to purchase, and there is also live artwork being made throughout the grounds all weekend. Food trucks and vendors line the entrance road onto the festival grounds and also near stages, and various rogue cooks can be found outside of their campsites selling grilled cheeses or hot dogs.
Over 100 bands and more than 20,000 attendees make this festival hard to miss, and its growing popularity over the years is sure to create an even more massive Summer Camp this year.
Despite its growing size, Summer Camp representatives insist that their “at-home” feel and energy surrounding the event has not been changed or reduced in any way. Rather, it has helped spread the positive energy SCAMP originally created during their first festival in 2001 to an even larger and more diverse audience. This eclectic mix of artists, vendors, musicians, dancers, young and old helps to create the memorable experience that SCAMP attendees gain and cherish every year.
“Last year was my first time (at Summer Camp), but I had so much fun and I definitely want to go again this year,” Engineering major Nick Stoegar said. “I’d never gone to a festival before, but it was a blast. I bought a really cool painting I have hanging in my living room and a couple cool necklaces for me and my girlfriend.”
SCAMP is an all-ages event, with childcare and activities during the day and various workshops anyone can participate in, like hula-hooping lessons and yoga. SCAMP also promotes sustainable practices by clearly marking their compost, recycle and trash bins and employing a volunteer “Green Team,” to pick up trash throughout the festival grounds and go through bins to sort out recyclables.
This year, Summer Camp has employed new ways to promote the event and get people involved and excited weeks and even months before the event. One such idea is Summer Camp Wednesdays, which takes place at the Canopy Club in Urbana, Ill. SCAMP enthusiasts are invited to the club to watch local bands who will be playing at Summer Camp Music Festival 2015.
Once there, attendees are asked to sign-in at a booth and then snap a photo of themselves holding a sign explaining to viewers what the event is. Once these selfies have been uploaded to social media with the hashtags scamp2015, scampwednesdays and canopyclub, the attendees are given credit toward earning themselves goodies like a free pre-party pass, a free ticket to the festival, and even a chance to win a free VIP upgrade.
Church Booty, a Champaign-Urbana band with self-described genre as “Funky Hip-Hop R&B Soul Groove Explosion, is one of the groups that have been performing during the Summer Camp Wednesdays. Church Booty first attempted to get on Summer Camp’s lineup last year during a Battle of the Bands contest at Canopy, but was unfortunately knocked out after making it to the final four. At the start of this year, band member and saxophonist Dan Hinze approached the booking agency for Summer Camp again to try and get a spot without going through a contest.
Church Booty secured a spot, and as part of their agreement they were asked to play four times at Canopy for Summer Camp Wednesdays to promote the festival, and three other two hour-long sets. Hinze admitted that the long sets were a challenge for the band, because they did not yet have two hours worth of original material.
“It definitely gave us the opportunity to play longer, more spontaneous sets. We had a chance to experiment on a lot of our current rotation of tunes, stretching things out to see what people really got into, and what didn’t work so well,” band member and keyboard player Rob Osiol explained. “Also, a lot of the audience were people attending Summer Camp who hadn’t seen us before, so we’ve had the chance to expand our audience as well.”
Summer Camp has also had an increased presence on social media, promoting events and news surrounding the festival on their Facebook page and group, which has almost 7,000 members. This group was started by Camp Counselor Erik Hones and is mediated by all the Summer Camp Counselors to keep out fake ticket sales and lead positive discussions. The group has been active year-round with posts from Summer Camp fans, successfully connecting the community despite the distance.
Camp Counselor Carmel O’Farrell added that in addition to the group, Summer Camp also hosts events such as Summer Camp on the Road, a contest that allows bands in different cities to battle for a spot on the lineup at Summer Camp, as well as a campaign called hashtag spotascamper, where counselors watch out for patrons wearing Summer Camp Gear. If a Counselor sees someone, they snap a photo with that person, who is then entered to win prizes like free tickets to the festival.
O’Farrell remarked that her time as a counselor has been rewarding because she’s been able to see her coverage of younger bands influence their growth, and is provided a free ticket and photo pass to document the experience.
“I am a counselor because I love Summer Camp. It was my first festival and I’ve been there 10 times, so it really feels like home to me,” O’Farrel said. “I love the community and I want to make that community stronger, so that’s why I applied for the position back in 2013. Since then I’ve met dozens of artists and have had many amazing experiences.”
New Summer Camp Counselors are chosen every year before the start of the festival through an online application, and similar to regular summer camp counselors, are expected to reach out to camp attendees and lead interactions. Counselors are also expected to help promote the festival throughout the year by interviewing bands and artists, and writing about news pertaining to the music festival through Summer Camp’s online blog, “The Campfire at Summer Camp Music Festival.”
The dedication for Summer Camp extends far beyond those working the festival. When asked why Summer Camp was so important, most SCAMP veterans agreed that the feeling of home was hard to beat, and the family atmosphere that is created every year is what keeps them coming back.
“My first scamp was in 2008 and it was a much different experience than what it is now. It was so much smaller, and what was great was that there was so much more room. I could wander away and easily find my friends again, and the chances of randomly running into friends was a lot higher,” Summer Camp attendee Aditus Maximus commented. “It has grown a lot now, and this has completely changed the smaller more intimate feel of the fest.”
“That being said, even with the change in size, Summer Camp is still amazing. I’d rather it grow and keep going every year than fizzle out. The music is awesome, the people are awesome, and having to carry your campsite into the grounds (as much of a pain as it is initially) helps maintain the intimate and awesome atmosphere that makes Summer Camp so unique and memorable year after year,” Maximus continued.
2015 will mark Summer Camp’s 14th annual event, and will host bands such as moe., Umphey’s McGee, Steve Miller Band, Widespread Panic, Krewella and many more. To view the full lineup, go to http://summercampfestival.com/lineup/.
Tickets for Summer Camp just went up to Level Three general admission pricing, so be sure to grab yours today if you’re interested in attending at http://summercampfestival.com/tickets/.