I just got back from my favourite place on earth: music camp.
I’ve been going on and off for 29 years (since I was 5)!
The camp is called Cammac, and it’s located in the woods by a lake, midway between Montreal and Ottawa. It’s a camp for kids, teens, and adults; families usually go together. The musical genre changes each session. This year I went for Broadway week.
Cammac is for amateur musicians. Most people who attend have non-musical day jobs and Cammac is an outlet for them to express their musical side. Although some of the participants are incredibly talented musicians, the fact that there are few professional musicians (other than the staff) means that nobody takes themselves too seriously. Our simplified production of the Wizard of Oz, for example, featured two of every character (nobody gets turned away) and a lot of easy touch-step, touch-step, strike-a-pose dance moves. The Oz cast was composed of people between the ages of 15 and 80-something. It was dorky and delightful.
The word amateur
Amateur, in its original sense, means “a lover of something,” not “someone who’s kinda crappy at something.” I think we’d all do well to embrace our amateurish side from time to time–that is, our yearning to do something for no financial/professional reason, but because we derive great enjoyment from it.
Yeah yeah, we all need to pay the bills. But professional achievement isn’t the only thing that matters in life. Joyous, meaningful experiences that have nothing to do with money or career are important, too. Multipotentialites probably know this better than anyone, but it’s easy to be influenced by the hustle-obsessed world around us.
I will say that Cammac isn’t all laid back and chill. You decide how much you’d like to be challenged. This year, I took a class that really pushed me. I took the musical theatre masterclass and spent the week preparing one song, a solo, which I performed with piano accompaniment at the end of the week.
I sang Ring of Keys from Fun Home. It required a lot of vulnerability and a willingness to step into a character’s shoes, no matter how stupid I might look. I also had to be okay with essentially featuring my queerness on stage (not that I’m not open or that people can’t tell. It’s just a very gay song. 🙂
It was incredibly challenging and I worked really hard, practicing not the singing so much as the acting, again and again, over the course of the week.
The performance went well. It wasn’t perfect because I was super nervous, but it was good. I felt proud of myself.
What’s most amazing is that I apparently made some audience members cry. And a surprising number of people come up to me afterward to tell me that they have a child who’s queer and/or trans and that my song reminded them of how their child must have felt growing up. Every time that happened, it was so beautiful and humbling…I can’t really put it into words.
I can’t take credit for the genius work that is Fun Home but I am proud that I was able to get over my fear and put myself out there enough to share the beauty of that song with others.
Such a good week!
Have you ever embraced your “amateurish” side and done something purely for the love of it? Share your story in the comments below!