Family Jam Camp!

Building a house certainly requires a lot of dedicated hard work, but it also requires the balancing scale of summertime camping trips and lakeside music jams.  Considering the many years of hard work it will take to actually complete the dreams we have for the property, we would probably exhaust ourselves early if it were not for the times that we take to stretch other parts of our bodies and relax our busy brains- besides, it would be a disservice to our children to get so worn out and stressed with constant attention to the house.

Last July, we had the great opportunity to join the Jam Camp family up at Mabel Lake, BC, started by a young family with whom we met and became friends with on Pender Island some 8 years ago.  Thomas and Celina, with their three children,  together with Celina’s sister Theresa and her family, host Jam Camp as the Jam Camp Society, a registered non-profit organization. Camps have been held primarily in the Mabel Lake Valley, British Columbia since 2003, using the Mabel Lake campground as well as providing camps on the Shuswap River, Bowen Island, Japan, and new this year at Christina Lake.  We took part in the camp designed for families with children under the age of 9.  For 4 days, we camped with the multinational crew of facilitators, and explored music that celebrates life, nature, and cultural diversity. There were  instruction sessions, in which we could sign up to learn to play the fiddle, banjo, guitar, or explore the rhythms of African drums.  We had group sessions in which we explored percussion instruments, shared our voices in song, and made clay whistles.  Each day, we met in smaller groups and focused on writing a song about our groups’ animal that we could share along with an art activity in a final lake side performance.  Colin and I offered to volunteer for some of the instructional times, teaching beginner banjo and fiddle, as well as help the group leaders with song writing and crafting.  Believe it or not, we still spent a few hours everyday swimming, canoeing, walking through the forests, or resting on the beach.  It was during these unstructured times that jams could happen and collaborations would manifest- adding the all important skill of creating music with someone else in the moment of flow.  The role of the facilitators is to create a space where as musicians they can collaborate with the participants in creating new, original and improvised music. During the collaboration process, creativity and expression are emphasized over perfection and precision, bringing a wholesome, integral, and lighthearted approach to music into a world that is steeped in high-profile and competitive music industries.  Where making music is a regular part of family and community life, there is an important value of equal creative contribution upheld for everyone- young, old, beginner, or professional.  It is a gift to be surrounded by a supportive group of musicians extending their skills and passions for sharing such universal expressions of connecting through sound.  The heartwarming embrace of Mabel Lake and the forests of hemlock and cedar give inspiration to the beauty and richness in the simplicity of ancient songs and new melodies.

We will be heading to Mabel Lake again this year in August to deepen friendships, create new ones, and find those places where melodies, harmonies, and rhythms intertwine and overlap in unique expression- sometimes exuberant, sometimes playful, sometimes quiet, but always an authentic step we can bring back with us into the journey of everyday.

To find out more, please take a look at Jam Camp’s website, www.jamcamp.org.  Dates, places, cost, and information about youth camps (we can’t wait to get into these camps in a few more years!).  Biographies of the musicians involved in the camps are worth reading through for a taste of the diversity of styles, skills, backgrounds, passions, and instrumentation.  There are just too many amazing stories and talents for me to go into here!

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