Past participants enjoy Jam Camp North at Cottonwood House Historic Site. This summer, Cottonwood will host the fourth Jam Camp North, and music lovers of all ages and all abilities and experience levels are encouraged to sign up before June 28. Photo submitted

Music lovers of all ages encouraged to try Jam Camp North near Quesnel this summer

Registration deadline for this year’s camp is June 28

If you love music and nature, the volunteers who organize Jam Camp North each year are hoping you’ll join them at Cottonwood House Historic Site for a week of learning, playing, writing, performing and fun this summer – no matter what age you are or how much experience you have.

Jam Camp North is a camp for music lovers of all ages. Campers can be any age and any skill level from beginner to experienced. This year, Jam Camp North will take place July 28 to Aug. 1 at Cottonwood House Historic Site.

Nancy Lilienweiss, a volunteer co-ordinator, says Jam Campers can be as young as four or five and can bring their grandparents, too.

“One of the neatest aspects of camp is that some families bring three generations, or grandparents take grandkids while the middle generation works,” she said. “It’s an amazing bonding opportunity.”

Jam Campers take part in a variety of workshops led by professional musicians, and Lilienweiss says the instructors are great at connecting with everyone from absolute beginners to experienced players.

Lilienweiss says the location adds a lot to the experience, as well.

“It’s the kind of thing that people have such a good time at,” she said. “Some of our instructors come from the Lower Mainland, and they are so thrilled to be in nature. It’s more than the music – it’s also a lovely camping experience. The reason people started it is they wanted to start something multi-generational and have music in nature.”

Throughout the camp, workshops are focused on creativity, community, diversity and celebration, and workshops include activities such as large group rhythm activities, as well as small group instruction and group songwriting. Campers can also take part in small group or semi-private lessons. Small groups write, perform and record songs, facilitated by professional musicians, and the groups perform their compositions on the last night of camp.

“It’s fun, and there’s no pressure to perform either; if someone really didn’t want to perform they didn’t have to, but it’s a nice, small group feeling, and people feel really comfortable,” said Lilienweiss.

During breaks in each day’s workshops, participants make crafts, play soccer or music, or hang out and enjoy the river and the beautiful natural setting of Cottonwood House. Camp evenings involve skits, campfire singing, jamming and dancing. Campers can rent a cabin or bring their RV or tent and stay at Cottonwood House.

“How amazing,” one parent shared in a testimonial. “Each of the five facilitators was personable, approachable, respectful, inclusive and passionate about music. I loved the variety of the instruments featured, too: marimba, accordion, guitar, voice, violin, tin flute, ukulele, strumstick, percussion/hand drums. This was a truly memorable experience that my entire family looks forward to participating in next year.”

No musical experience required to participate in Jam Camp, and campers can borrow many different instruments. Thanks to a grant from the Quesnel Community Foundation a few years ago, Jam Camp North was able to buy guitars, ukuleles, a djembe, a cajon, fiddles and a mandolin to offer campers, and they have other instruments that can be borrowed as well.

Lilienweiss says this summer will be the fourth year for Jam Camp North in our area, but Jam Camp has been taking place in other parts of B.C. for 16 years.

For more information about this year’s camp, call Marg at 250-992-9143, email Nancy at nll657@gmail.com or visit facebook.com/JamCampNorth or jamcamp.org. The registration deadline for this year’s camp is June 28.

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