This past weekend I went to camp with a bunch of women to make music.
About 10 or 12 years ago (I can't even remember how long ago it was), I attended the Northwest Women's Music Celebration, a music camp held annually at the YMCA Camp Collins in Gresham, Oregon. The camp was founded by a great women's folk music band called Motherlode. This year marked their 20th year of holding this camp at Camp Collins. The first time I went to the camp I attended by myself, and the following year I took along my mom.
Then life got crazy with kids, etc., and I didn't go back again until this year...when not only my mom decided to go along, but also two friends! We had a fantastic weekend. In the intervening years, the camp organizers vastly improved the organization and the offerings: more teachers, more classes, and way, way more laughter. I noticed a distinct effort to reach out to newcomers and up the fun factor.
The camp started on Friday afternoon. After registration was the first of many song circles, led by members of Motherlode. (A song circle is a musical gathering where each person takes turns choosing a song.) After the newcomers' meeting (which Mom and I attended since we felt a bit like newcomers ourselves) and dinner was the opening event and a teachers' concert. Each teacher talked about the courses she would be offering and performed. The theme for the weekend was the 60s, and I can't imagine an easier theme--for dress-up, decorations, and especially--MUSIC!
Here are the emcees (and camp coordinators), Sonny and Cher:
Here is an absolutely hilarious video of the Sarah Palin parody a group of women did at the student concert. I don't remember when I last laughed that hard!!!
Here's my friend Lois playing in the marimba band:
And Mom as a flower child, singing in the Showtunes group (the woman who impersonated Sarah Palin was the Showtunes teacher--she was amazing!). I would have enjoyed that class, but it was offered the same time as intermediate mandolin, and I knew I had to take a mandolin class.
After the concert we did some line dancing to 60s music (including The Hustle!). The next morning after packing, cleanup, and brunch, we had one final session--and I chose beginning marimba. Such a blast! It was the first time I'd ever tried my hand at the marimba, and I think I could really get addicted to it. It's trance inducing!
Mom on the marimba:
And Lois enjoyed it so much, she took the class again!
After the final class, we had the closing circle--an emotional tribute to all who helped put the weekend together and the special camp participants. The weekend was often bittersweet and poignant, as one of the members of Motherlode is battling ovarian cancer and is the middle of chemotherapy. It was a true testament to the restorative, caring power of a group of women gathered together, because it really felt like we had encircled her in a healing cloud of love.
All the "senior" members of camp (women over 65), including Mom.
Here I am with my camp buddies--Lois, Mom, and Karina--it was so much fun to hang out with them and make music with them!
Before the weekend was halfway over, I was already planning my return next year. However, in 2011 the Northwest Women's Music Celebration will be held on Easter weekend. If they are able to hold it from Thursday-Saturday, I'll be there in a heartbeat. Otherwise, I couldn't miss Easter morning with my boys. So I hope that's what they decide to do. The weekend passed way too quickly!