Friday, August 14, 2009

Counselor Roundtable

10 minute highlight podcast, if it's too long (and it is too long) for you to read:

Jacki: I want to first start off with the question, ‘How did Peter invite you here?’ because it seems to be different for everyone, and it’s an interesting question.

Levi: I kinda don’t remember cos it was like three years ago at this point. But I think it was mostly just, ‘You’ve played a lot of shows here, and you’d be good at the camp,’ and boy was he wrong… I think it was mostly just cos my band had played so much at Great Pacific and he figured some of the kids had been at the shows and would know who I was…

Scott: It was pretty weird. Peter sent me a scented letter. It was sealed with that like wax stuff, and I had to break it and open it up, and it smelled like roses.

- Was there a lipstick kiss?
- He really wanted you there.

Scott: At first I didn’t want to say yes, but it was so sweet, and heartfelt, that I just thought I better go. Actually, I was in Heroes and Villains with Levi. He actually invited our entire band. The second year all of Heroes and Villains came, and since then, the three of us have been coming and the other two members have stayed at home.

Nick: We talked about this yesterday. I was not invited; I had to invite myself. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Vaughn: I don’t really recall being invited, I more or less just kinda crashed. And I don’t really care if anybody hates it, I just feel like I really need to be a part of rock camp, and that’s why I’ve been coming ever since.

Thomas: I met Peter through J.D. from Rian Beach, from playing at House 801, I think in 04-05, I’m a little fuzzy. I was friends with Levi and Maranda, and met Scott in Heroes and Villains, and they told me immediately after their first camp how much fun it was and that I had to do it, and I was lucky enough that Peter asked me to.

Casey: I guess I was Peter’s second choice for the journalism teacher. I think he emailed Ezra at the Merc[ury], and Ezra couldn’t do it. Maybe then he emailed my old editor Amy and she couldn’t do it, and so I was like, ‘Heck yeah, I want to do it.’ It kind of gave me a feeling of power. But it’s been really really fun and I’ve had a great group of students every year, so I keep coming back.

Amanda: I think the reason we met Peter was we came through town playing shows at the old 801, the Pendleton Overground house. He invited us to the first rock camp, we’ve been coming ever since, and I for one think it’s cool to have the same people and add new counselors every year, cos you start to form relationships with the kids and see how they’ve grown and learned..


Jessica: What’s the most memorable moment of camp?

Scott: What’s most memorable for me and my favorite is Friday, day. The other days are great and you’re getting a lot of work done but you start to see the light in all the kids’ eyes and they know the show’s about to happen, so they’re half nervous and half over the moon excited about the show that night. The work mode usually doubles, and the excitement in the air doubles, and it’s when you see the culmination of all the days before, coming together. All the work you’ve done with them is visible and you can see why you’re here…. Friday is just incredible. And then of course the show. That’s the payoff.

Skyler: …It was just nice that through Peter’s idea that he came up with, it turned into something where kids who can’t always feel comfortable being themselves have an environment, one week out of the year, where they can dress however they want to dress and say what they want to say and be how they want to say and not feel ridiculed or looked at like they’re some sort of weirdo, but in fact belong to something, and I thought that was really neat.

Vaughn: I just like seeing all the great things come out of rock camp. This has really boosted a lot of people’s confidence…


Casey: What makes rock camp special?

Randy: There’s a bunch of things that make it special to me. For one, teaching is not any of our main gigs – maybe we do it on the side, but it’s not a main thing that we do, so we don’t really know what the hell we’re doing. So we’re coming at it with clear heads and full hearts instead of being beaten down and having all these expectations of how it should be done or how it has to be done.

Maranda: We’re learning as much as the kids are.

Randy: How much the community of Pendleton gives to [the camp]. We have this huge place to make it happen in the Arts Center, and a huge talent in Peter to pull everyone together… There’s so much generosity…

Victor: I think Randy just said it – what makes rock camp special is Peter. Every morning he gets us in there at 8:30 and we start having fun immediately with some clapping game or something. Everything is always very positive – be inclusive, have fun… the accent here is ‘Be very positive.’ If you know a kid’s screwing up, you don’t tell him he’s screwing up. Always reinforce that they’re doing a good job, and get them to have fun and they end up playing well, and it seems like they always leave here super happy.

Peter: Everybody that we’ve had help out with rock camp has shared this same vision. I’ve never articulated it like this before but I feel like everybody has the same general idea that we don’t want this to be like high school band class… In rock camp, it’s kind of applied learning – they leave here going like, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t need an Xbox to be a rock star; maybe I can be one in real life – and I got everything I need to know to do that here.’ Rock camp, it’s more like – just go make it up. Do something.

Vaughn: I think rock and roll is still a revolution in the making. Now we’re teaching it.

Andy: It hit me on Monday – seeing returning people, returning faces… It seems like at times in the other years – ‘I’m not a teacher; don’t choose music, kids, cos it’s crazy.’ But then we’re here and we’re teaching it, and trying to figure out how to teach it and I’m really excited about teaching it, but at times it’s like, ‘What are we really doing? Is this really affecting the community?’ It goes back and forth – it’s affecting it greatly, or it’s not, and to be able to keep coming back and having the same people keep coming back, it’s really working on something.
I got there on Monday, and I was yelling to the guitarist, cos it was really loud in there, ‘Nothing is wrong. Do whatever you want.’ It’s a lesson I’ve learned through playing music and it’s cool that we can impart that to them. And that it’s rock n roll and it’s their art and they can do whatever they want. We’re not even reading music.

Matt: Something else I enjoy about rock n roll camp is the other avenues for creativeness… you learn how to do stuff that’s also involved with music, but not necessarily playing the music – it offers the children another area to expand themselves in.

Addison: Coming in and teaching intermediate guitar, you never really knew what they wanted to learn. They don’t give you a lot of input … so you kind of pick something. You need them to trust you that it’s something that’ll be good for them, and I’m trying to tell them, ‘Practice this, it’ll make you better in general,’ and no one really seems that big on it – and then you come back the next day, and I remember seeing Evan, and he’s in the corner, and he’s practicing everything I showed him, and he’s just wailing away on it, and he improved a hundredfold since the day before. I keep seeing other people practicing the stuff, like the scales, and it’s really cool having them actually, you know.

Andy: We don’t even know – how much we’re affecting them.

Wilson: Having Addison sitting here, and Jacki sitting here… What’s been really cool to watch is seeing you [Addison] be the punk kid four years ago. And seeing you walk around today, and when I had questions about how to teach a guitar thing, you were just wandering by, you immediately stopped, taught the thing to the kids, had them totally into it, totally could understand what they were talking about – taught it perfectly. Everywhere you were going – it was incredibly impressive. It just made me so happy. I think of all things, it’s neat – we actually get to see the physical growth of these people and then hang out with them – they become our peers.

Skyler: I can’t help but feel rock camp was a little responsible for that.


Maranda: I get excited. When I’m like twenty miles outside of town, I start speeding up, and I just can’t wait to get here. It’s so much more welcoming, and people are more open and friendlier here than in Portland, and not as pretentious and not afraid to learn. I have something to offer here.

Aaron: Having something to offer. It’s awesome that everybody comes – the counselors, we all come from different musical backgrounds. We all comes different types of bands and different places and our teaching styles and musical styles. By the end of the week we all have our places, and the kids are as eclectic as we are.

Victor: It’s a really great experience, and it’s really great to feel you have something to offer, something to teach. I grew up doing music camps, classical music seminars, and there’s always so much structure, and you learn a lot, but there’s never that feeling of empowerment that you get here – I think everybody knows when they show up Monday morning that they’re responsible ultimately for learning their instrument, starting a band. Any time I’m working with people, it’s always the kids who are just driving exactly what they want to do.
I see what they like in music and I feel like I can kinda help them get a little closer to that, by just encouraging them to do their thing.
Pendleton’s a smaller place – it really wants it.


Full interview:

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