Music Festival season gets underway across the country in May, and Summer Camp Music Festival has made a mark for being a destination event in the Midwest. Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Trey Anastasio Band, Pretty Lights Live and dozens more can be seen this weekend, May 25-28 at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL. New York State artists Aqueous, Break Science, Eric Krasno Band, Escort, Turkuaz, Intrepid Travelers, Wild Adriatic, and of course moe., will perform at the four-day festival, now in its 17th year.
Summer Camp has a lot going on, making it tough to see it all, but far from overwhelming like mega-concerts and nowhere near the dumpster fire that is/was Fyre Festival. Check out the full schedule here, or create your own on the Summer Camp app (highly recommended).
Listen to your Counselors!
You should listen to your counselors. Seriously, these are the pros who know Summer Camp inside and out. They’re the best resource for Scampers of all ages and experience levels. Read the handbook, which covers virtually every detail and question about the festival, and if you still have questions, join the Facebook group where you can find answers to virtually any question that may arise over the weekend.
When it comes to camping, unless you’re in an RV, NYS Music recommends the field between Sunshine and Camping (Area D in the map above). Why? Because you are proximate to five stages—Sunshine, Starshine, Vibe Tent, Camping and Soulshine Tent (very underrated, even late at night)—and although there is no shade, you’ll love being able to catch a set of music while chilling between sets of music. The Woods are a solid option as well if you have a smaller set up, but fear not—the sprawling area in the woods is one of the coolest areas to walk through at any festival, night or day.
And while you are at Summer Camp, Make a Difference! there are so many ways to leave Three Sisters Park better than how you found it; clean up trash, cigarette butts, bring a reusable water bottle, recycle your waste and check out the Soulshine Tent to find ways to bring some of that positive energy from Summer Camp back home with you.
Then, of course, what do you do when you want to relive a little bit of Summer Camp from your youth? You participate in Field Day! Yes, Field Day is an annual tradition at Summer Camp, one that has a rightful place in the history of the festival. Started in 2011, the annual event takes the cake as the most unique and most fun non-musical component of Summer Camp. Sign up online, and the first 100 get a free team bandana on Friday from noon–1 p.m. at the Vibe Tent. Come back Saturday at 3 p.m. and participate in capture the flag, arm wrestling, spelling bee, banana eating contest and much more, with a Champions ceremony at noon Sunday. Field Day is open to all, the smack talk is free and it has become a growing event everyone should check out, whether as spectator or participant.
The Field Day staff shared a little insight into why you should take part in Field Day:
The number-one reason why people should sign up is because of the amount of awesome people you’ll meet doing so, especially myself Ashley Pardy. What keeps me coming back is all of the memories, and the Red Team wins. I mean would you leave a team that has won almost every year?” – Ashley Pardy
“You will meet amazing people, laugh your ass off and drink free beer. Participating in one of the many cool activities at Summer Camp will make your festival experience unique beyond just seeing shows.”
– Jessica Coughlin
“Bragging rights.” – Elizabeth Cox
What memories of past years keep these wonderful staff keep coming back, year after year?
I come back year after year because the people are so amazing. Favorite memory is Sheppy nearly getting arrested by some serious looking state troopers for defacing an American flag, while simultaneously being hoisted on our shoulders raising the red flag after yet another contested victory.”
– Anthony Piccirilli (Shep talked his way out of it and the cop came to our keg party.)
“Mud Tug-o-War, Drunken Spelling Bees, Sheppy drunken walks with the cup.” – Elizabeth Cox
“Drunken Spelling Bees.” – Anthony Piccirilli
And while sunrise kickball isn’t an official activity, it has been the unofficial opening ceremony of the games for six years now. This is one of the highlights of Summer Camp; at 5:30 a.m. come to the Sunshine Stage for a game of kickball with faithful fans led by Ryan Stasik. There will be trampolines, bacon at second base and no apparent rules; it is the most beautiful and absurd shit-show ever witnessed, and one worth staying up for!