Summer camp was never this much fun as a kid

Welcome Campers curates music and nostalgia

Welcome Campers, a three-day curated music festival held at Camp Lenox in Otis recreates the summer camp experience for adults. Photo provided by The Wild Honey Pie
Welcome Campers, a three-day curated music festival held at Camp Lenox in Otis recreates the summer camp experience for adults. Photo provided by The Wild Honey Pie

By Jennifer Huberdeau

OTIS, Mass.

Have you ever wished you could go to summer camp? As an adult?

Of course, it wouldn’t be the summer camp of your childhood; just the best parts — hiking, swimming, kickball, dodgeball, craft projects and roasting marshmallows over an open fire.

Throw some stellar music artists in the mix and you have Welcome Campers, a three-day, two-night curated music festival held at Camp Lenox over Memorial Day weekend.

The festival, being held at the Otis camp for its fourth consecutive year, is produced by The Wild Honey Pie, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based music discovery company.

“There’s something special about that camp and that lake,” Eric Weiner, founder and CEO of The Wild Honey Pie, said during a phone interview. “We’re excited to bring our very favorite artists. Welcome Campers is about breaking down the barriers between the artists and the fans; the whole purpose is to build a community.”

The all-inclusive weekend includes lodging in bunkhouses, food (served buffet style), drinks and tons of activities — kickball, dodgeball, swimming, yoga, karaoke, nature hikes, dance parties, DJ sets, basketball, pingpong, kayaking, astrology readings, tye-dying and arts and crafts. (A round-trip bus ride from Brooklyn to the Berkshires can be added for $75.)

And let’s not forget about the music artists. This year’s lineup of artists includes: Wet, Torres, Liza Anne, Ashe, Henry Jamison, Aisha Badru, Half Waif, Savior Adore, Daisy the Great and Plastic Picnic.

“There’s some absolutely stellar talent coming. And we’re excited a majority of the lineup is female this year; most music festivals are male-dominated,” he said. “It’s an impossibly awesome weekend, where you don’t have to worry about your wallet. Everything is taken care of. We harbor a safe environment.”

To do that, The Wild Honey Pie placed the festival in an intimate location and limited the number of attendees. In total, there are about 420 people at the festival, a number that includes ticket holders, event staff and performers.

“For us, it’s not just about doing something for the sake of doing something different. We’ve created a great alternative to the music festivals out there that my friends and I are tired of,” Weiner said. “We thought, let’s give more attention to detail. Let’s get to know people.”

But the festival, now in its seventh year, didn’t start off as a multiday event in a summer camp setting; that came later. In 2013, it was a one-day event held at his parents’ home in Westchester, N.Y.

“The Wild Honey Pie is a collective of animators, producers and creatives who have come together to curate the music we love. In 2013, we were producing a ton of original videos that we call Buzzsessions. The idea was to do a day of themed Buzzsessions on my parents’ property,” Weiner said. “The themed day of’ summer camp’ always spoke to me as a former camper and camp counselor.”

The collective brought six bands and 100 people to Westchester that year.

“We had a food truck, a cooking show and performances on a boat; on the lake; in the garden and in the pool,” he said. The next year, the festival was held at Camp Lenox and in 2015, it landed in a summer camp outside Austin, Texas. It returned to the Berkshires the following year, where it has remained.

“There’s a magic to it,” he said of the adult summer camp concept. “It’s made for the kid in all of us. It’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane.”

With tickets at $400 for the weekend ($300 for early birds and $500 for last minute), it may seem impossible that there aren’t any additional costs once you arrive at the camp, but very early on in the festival’s evolution The Wild Honey Pie began to bring on partners like Squarespace to help keep costs down. This year, partners include Clif Bar, Allagash Brewing Co., Vapur, Recover, Noble Oak, White Claw Hard Seltzer and Sailor Jerry.

“When we work with these companies, the partnerships make sense. They add to the bottom line of the festival and benefit it,” Weiner said. “Clif Bar leads a nature hike. Vapur is providing reusable water bottles to every camper as we eliminate single-use plastic from the festival.”

In the end, the partnerships, he said, allow The Wild Honey Pie to make Welcome Campers the festival it is: a community of like-minded people “with love in their hearts, who love music, who love the outdoors and care for the planet.” •

Summer Festivals

In addition to being a music festival, Welcome Campers recreates 'summer camp' experiences for adults. Among the activities is dodge ball. Photo provided by The Wild Honey Pie
In addition to being a music festival, Welcome Campers recreates ‘summer camp’ experiences for adults. Among the activities is dodge ball. Photo provided by The Wild Honey Pie

Welcome Campers
Camp Lenox, Otis, Mass.
May 25-27
General admission: $400 to $500 plus ticket service fee. Private bunk and bus tickets (round trip from/to Brooklyn, N.Y.) available. Admission tickets include lodging, all meals and drinks, activities and music.
Who: Wet, Torres, Liza Anne, Ashe, Henry Jamison, Aisha Badru, Half Waif, Savoir Adore, Daisy the Great, Plastic Picnic.

Disc Jam Music Festival
Stephentown, N.Y.
June 6-9
Tickets: General admission, $200; VIP, $450-$500; RV pass, $250; RV pass and electric hookup, $300.
Who: Lotus with Barber & Friends, The Floozies, John Kadlecik & the West Philly Fadeaway, and many more.

Taste of Country Music Festival
Hunter Mountain, N.Y.
June 7-9
Tickets: one-day, $109; three-day, $195, three-day and camp access, $245; Outlaw VIP packages: $530 – $1,600
Who: Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Brooks & Dunn, Little Big Town, Brett Young, LANCO and more.

Mountain Jam
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, N.Y.
June 13-16
Tickets: four-day general admission, $179-$199; four-day VIP, $599-$649; VIP Box, $650; four-day Super VIP, $999-$1199
Who: Willie Nelson and Family; Phil Lesh and Friends; Gov’t Mule, The Avett Brothers, The Revivalists, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dispatch, Alison Krauss and more.

Village Lodge Road, Stratton, Vt.
June 20-23
Tickets: three-day tickets, $376.08; Friday tickets, $146.08; Saturday ticket, $156.08; Sunday ticket, $101.08. Premium tickets from $2,160.
Who: Yoga and music festival, featuring India Arie, Ziggy Alberts, MC Yogi, Abbie Galvin and more.

Solid Sound Festival
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
North Adams, Mass.
June 28-30
Tickets: Weekend pass, $189; Kids pass, ages 6 to 10, $55; Friday pass, $74; Saturday pass, $129; Sunday pass, $74. Ticket price includes access to Mass MoCA’s galleries. Price does not include service fee.
Who: Wilco, Courtney Barnett, Tortoise, The Feelies, Cate Le Bon, John Hodgman’s Comedy Cabaret, Autumn Defense, Cup, Quindar, Story Pirates, DJ Funkhouser and many more.

Basin Bluegrass Festival
Brandon, Vt.
July 11-14
Tickets: Weekend tickets purchased by June 25, $55 at the gate, $65. Friday and Saturday tickets, $25; Sunday tickets, $15; evening tickets $15.
Who: Redwood Hill, Danny Paisley & Southern Grass, Cedar Ridge, Dave Nichols & Spare Change, Seth Sawyer Band and more.

Green River Festival
Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, Mass.
July 12-14
Tickets: Weekend pass, $139.99 plus fees; weekend pass with camping, $179.99 with fees; Friday day pass, $44.99, with fees; Saturday pass, $69.99 with fees; Sunday pass, $64.99 with fees.
Who: First Aid Kit, Parsonsfield, The Wood Brothers, Tyler Childers, Angelique Kidjo: Remain in Light, The Devil Makes Three, The Record Company, Rhiannon Giddens, The Suffers and more.

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival
Walsh Farm, Oak Hill, N.Y.
July 18-21
Tickets: Festival with camping, $225; Thursday without camping, $75; Friday without camping, $75; Saturday without camping, $75. Children younger than 12 are free with ticketed adult. Vehicle pass is $35.
Who: Dry Branch Fire Squad, Billy Strings, Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Tommy Emmanuel CGP and many more.

Danby Olde Country and Bluegrass Festival
Powers’ Fields, 245 Tifft Road, Danby, Vt.
July 25-27
Tickets: Weekend passes, $55 in advance, $65 at the gate. Thursday, $20; Friday, $30; Saturday, $30; evening tickets, $15. Kids younger than 15 are free.
Who: Josh Grigsby and County Line, Monroe Crossing, Beartracks, The Atkinson Family, Nick Anderson and Shady Creek and more.

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
Dodds Farm, 44 County Road 7D, Hillsdale, N.Y.
Aug. 2-4
Tickets: Early Bird tickets, three-day with camping, $160; three-day without camping, $115, if purchased by May 15. Advance tickets on sale May 16 to July 10, three-day with camping, $175; three-day without camping, $130. Prices increase after July 11. Children ages 13-18, $65-$95. Single-day passes, Thursday, $20; Friday, $50; Saturday, $60; Sunday, $45. Children younger than 12 are free.
Who: Over 40 acts on four stages, TBA.

Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots Festival Hunter Park, Manchester, Vt.
Aug. 15-18
Tickets: Presale four-day pass, $135, $145 at the gate. $40 camping pass. day tickets: Thursday, $25, $30 at the gate; Friday, $50, $55 at the gate; Saturday, $50, $55 at the gate; Sunday, $30, $35 at the gate. Kids younger than 15 are free.
Who: Sam Bush, Mandolin Orange, Darrell Scott, Town Mountain, Donna the Buffalo, Martha Scanlon and Jon Neufeld, Mipso, Lonesome Ace Stringband, Chatham County Line and more.

Bethel Woods’ Season of Song & Celebration: Woodstock 50th Anniversary
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel N.Y.
Aug. 15-18
Tickets: Aug. 15: Free; prices vary for the remaining days. Please check the website.
Who: Aug. 15: Screening of “Woodstock: The Director’s Cut” on the field where Woodstock happened and a concert by Arlo Guthrie. Aug. 16: Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band, Arlo Guthrie, The Edgar Winter Band. Aug. 17: Santana and the Doobie Brothers. Aug. 18: TBA.

Woodstock 50
Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Aug. 16-18
Tickets: TBA
Who: The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Santana, The Lumineers, The Raconteurs, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Dead and Company, Chance the Rapper, The Black Keys, Sturgill Simpson, Greta Van Fleet, David Crosby and Friends, Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, Halsey and many more.

Jennifer Huberdeau is editor of UpCountry magazine. She also pens the column, “The Cottager,” for Berkshires Week and The Shires of Vermont.

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Vermont Country has a hyperlocal focus on the Green Mountain lifestyle, its personalities, events, attractions and culture. The magazine appears six times a year, designed to complement the state and four-season living. VtCo magazine is a Southern Vermont publication of Vermont News & Media.

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