Summer Camp Music Festival: The Camping Experience

Sunset at Summer Camp

Sunset at Summer Camp

My heart was racing as I clocked out of work at 4:59 pm on Thursday, May 22. I sped home (nearly getting pulled over) to finish packing for my minor two and a half hour journey from Chicago to Chillicothe, IL. I am a college student on a tight budget (like many of my blogger counterparts) and was forced to decide between two festivals: Spring Awakening in Chicago or Summer Camp. After a couple hours of thought, I decided to flip a coin: heads for Summer Camp and tails for Spring Awakening. When I lifted my hand and saw George Washington's head on that quarter, I jumped for joy. My anticipation had been building from the day I made my impulse ticket purchase to Summer Camp. As a frequent festival goer, I was ecstatic for my festival season to begin with Summer Camp. However, there was one thing that separated this festival from every other festival I had attended: camping.

I had never camped at a music festival before and had only speculations about what my experience would be like. I had heard through friends that the camping experience is really great: you meet awesome people, you connect with them, and you become life-long friends. The thoughts of this put my mind at ease if I ever stressed about the obstacles that camping creates. Obstacles like: living in a tent, using a porta-potty for a whole weekend, lack of showers, and bringing food and drink so my wallet did not dry out by the end of the weekend. However, I noticed these obstacles become extremely insignificant when coupled with the euphoria that camping at a festival brings music lovers.

There are a lot of factors that all work together to make camping at a festival such a fantastic experience. After attending Summer Camp, I noticed one factor that really makes or breaks the camping experience: the people. You have to realize that you are going to be living with the people in your campsite for 3-4 days (depending on the festival) in rain or shine, clean or dirty. In that time, you will all eat together, party together, talk about life and music interests, and really get to know each other. By the end of the weekend the strangers that happened to set up a tent next to me became great friends of mine. We all cherished every moment of that weekend that we were privileged to spend together. Never have I met so many genuinely caring and good hearted people in one place like I did at Summer Camp.

The love and happiness that attendees of Summer Camp feel is intense when compared to that of any other non-camping festival that I have been to. I have attended a few festivals since my first in 2012. I believe that there is a strong cultural difference between people who attend camping festivals and people who attend non-camping festivals. However, like with many things there is overlap between the people who go to both and that is okay. While the love and good vibes are present at non-camping festivals, they are not present in the plethora that camping festivals provide. I think this is strongly due to the larger “hippie” presence at camping festivals. I met people from around the nation, many whom attend festivals as part of their lifestyle. And as one meets these people you can quickly start to draw lines between those who know each other and those who don’t, because we all attend many of the same festivals.

It may be cliche, but the fundamental enjoyment of going to these festivals and meeting so many great people stems from the idea of one love. During the drive to Summer Camp, I was most excited to meet who was going to be camping around me. Because there are so many familiar faces at festivals, a festival-goer (like myself) feels like he/she has a second family. Not only do music lovers get to know each other, but also their favorite artists. When you get to see an artist multiple times, you start to notice how their music and performance style develops over time. Sharing that artistic growth and development with fellow festivalites can be interesting, insightful and fun. But most of all it brings you together with your fellow music-lovers, and perpetuates the idea of one love.

I will tell anybody I meet the truth about Summer Camp, and the truth is: it is among the best music festivals in the country. For anyone who has never experienced going to a camping festival: go to one, you will not regret your decision. Summer Camp was a great festival to try out the camping experience, and it definitely made me fall in love with camping festivals. I can’t wait to attend Electric Forest this year to continue to develop relationships with fantastic people and unbelievably great artists.

Written By: Patrick Walsh