I guess you could say I’m sort of an expert when it comes to bluegrass and old time music camps. I worked with Ingrid Noyes and the board of the CBA to start our Fathers Day Music Camp nearly ten years ago, and I’ve taken part in approving every camp budget since then. As it’s grown, I’ve helped shape and direct the camp. I’ve read pretty much every set of evaluations done by campers when they finish the experience on the final day of camp. I’ve even had the honor of standing before all of the students on Sunday evening at every camp we’ve had and welcoming them. And of course during each of the camps I’ve strolled around observing and assisting Ingrid in any way I’ve been able.
Then again, you’d be just as correct in saying that I don’t really know the first thing about bluegrass and old time music camp because I’ve never actually been to one. As a student, that is. That’s all going to change in February. I’ve just gotten my confirmation that I’m officially enrolled in Fiddle Class–2 with Jack Tuttle. It’s months away, but I’ve already got butterflies. What if I can’t keep up? Do I really want the world to know how much I don’t know about the fiddle? Will anybody want to dance with me? What are you supposed to wear to a music camp? Will Jack even agree to have a left-handed fiddler in his class?
My wife’s reaction when she learned I’d signed up for music camp was, well, interesting. She gave me a big hug and kiss and said, “That’s GREAT! Thanks, Ricky.” “Thanks for what,” I asked. She hesitated. “Well, you know.” “No, I don’t know. Thanks for what?” “Well,” Lynn said, “you’ll, ah, get better. You know, more enjoyable to, ah, listen to. Right?” I’ve gotten similar reactions from the guys I pick with up here in Jamestown. They’re excited that I’ve signed up for music camp, and they’re not the least bit hesitant in showing it.
What Winter Music Camp will mean for me personally is pretty much an unknown; I’m going to do my very best and the chips will fall where they fall. But what the new camp will mean for the California Bluegrass Association is quite another matter. With a single broad brush we’ve essentially doubled our bluegrass and old time music instruction operation, and that’s excellent news on several levels. We’ve broadened our reach in meeting the mission of the Association, which is to say we’re spreading the gospel in a pretty intensive new way; we’ve added another revenue stream to our overall business model, thus strengthening out ability to pay for the many non-revenue generating activities in which we’re involved; and, (this is an especially important one), we’ve found a way to serve the several hundred people who, over the past several years, have been turned away from our summer music camp because there just weren’t any more slots open.
When I last spoke with Ingrid Noyes, our Camp Director, we’d filled a little more than half the slots (a little over 100)….a few sections were already full, but most were still open. Ingrid was especially excited to report that more than fifty percent of the registrants were first-timers. That was three weeks ago. I’m not sure we’re registration stands now, but we’ve got a ways to go before we’re full up. If you’ve got even the slightest inkling that Winter Music Camp might be for you….or some lucky person you’d like to send….I invite you to visit the CBA Music Camp website at http://www.cbamusiccamp.org/ > There you’ll find a long list of frequently asked questions about the camp, a listing of who’ll be teaching what, a schedule of activities, and pretty much anything else you’ll need to know before making a decision to take the plunge. As I’ve already shared, I’ve taken the plunge and it’s pretty darned exhilarating.