Ben’s Blog: Intermediate Camp Day One

Ben Smelser

Ben Smelser

Trying to help Murphy again on these blogs so here goes. At 12:30 campers began checking in and picking up their name tags. After looking around I could tell that some of these faces I had seen before. Yep I was right!! Returning campers from last year's intermediate camp. Going around the room listening to introductions I noticed that some folks did a great deal of traveling. Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, and Southern Virginia. Plus I noticed that most of our heads were grey/white except for one teenager, the gentleman from Maine, and one Banjo instructor. The other instructor's hair has been altered. [Ha, ha!] I would say the average age for this Camp would be probably around 55. Where are all the young people? We've all gotta do better job of getting the youth involved. How many of us wish we wouldn't have waited so long to start playing? Encourage the young!

After intros we had a little playing all together, which basically let everyone know where they stood with their level of playing. We broke up into two groups and spent the next session working on improvising. In the session I attended which was led by Murphy she had us work with the song Bury Me Beneath the Willow in the Key of C---without a capo. We started with "roly poleys" and finished up with the two-finger chords up and down the neck. It was very cool to do. After that it was snack time. I asked the blessing over my snacks and he must have blessed them cause they were good---especially the ones called "bark." Kathy was our snack provider and she did not let us down.

We then moved into discussion about jamming do's and don't's! Murphy and Casey went over the rules of jams and answered questions. All of this came about due to last year's camp. Last year they asked for feedback on ways to improve the camp. One suggestion was less concert time and the other was more jam time for campers with instructors to lead the jam. So they delivered! This year there was an hour concert after supper then a hour-long instructor led jam. Then we were on our own to jam all night if ya wished.

The concert was exceptional. Murphy did a few of her original numbers but the funniest came at the end of the song All Of Us Used To Be Skinny. The song ends with basically letting Casey know that in the end you will end up looking like your Mom. Well David McLaughlin, who was playing mandolin, chimes in with "Casey is porking out a little bit here lately." Wow what a punch!! Brave man!! I attended the instructor jam led by Murphy. Holy Cow, these folks were smoking! I realized real quick that I was on a horse that I couldn't ride. They all played extremely well. [And Ben kept up much better than he is letting on! His Kasey, of course, was awesome! Actually everyone did exceptionally well. I was proud of them all.]

I'll finish with this, I think everyone is having a great time. Murphy and Casey have provided a camp that really belongs to you the camper. They have given us what we have asked for and they have delivered. Maybe that's why there are so many returning campers. Let's go have another day of it!!

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