Sunday, July 12, 2009

Becoming a GRAMMY Camp® Leader by Sarah Tither-Kaplan

While driving down the 405 freeway, at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, on the way to my second year at GRAMMY Camp® at USC, with Idaho native and fellow GRAMMY camper, Jillian Grutta, questions about the coming week raced through my mind. Would the cohesive and creative dynamic still exist? Would the music campers made be as good? How would we handle “cramming” the two-week epic journey that is GRAMMY camp into just nine days? Would we miss out on the open mic nights at Ground Zero café or the bonding experiences around the piano in the lounge ? And what would camp be like without the friends I made last year?

I knew GRAMMY Camp was going to be different, but I really didn’t think it was possible to better than the year before. But as soon as we arrived at Trojan Hall, Jillian and I, the returning campers, realized that this year we were ready to be leaders. Rather than stand awkwardly in the quad as petrified newbies thrust into a camp filled with tiny musical geniuses, we were the cool kids, the ones with experience, the “second years.” Our mission was clear; make GRAMMY Camp 2009 the best GRAMMY Camp yet. As the 80+ campers arrived Jillian and I rushed around introducing ourselves to the newbies, catching up with our fellow GRAMMY Camp veterans, and reveling in the fact that even though GRAMMY camp isn’t new to us, it will never get old. With the sea of new faces, the fresh batch of unique talents, and this second-year dynamic, returning GRAMMY campers won’t have any time to get complacent.

A few minutes were all that was needed to reminisce about last year’s camp experience, sing Barry Harris’ now infamous “Lovely Lady” song, swap stories about the late night dance parties in the girls’ dorm, and recall the exhilarating rush of the grand finale at last year’s showcase before we were ready to break new GRAMMY camp ground, and hit that ground running.

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