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Camplified Blog

Posts Tagged ‘aimee berger’

Exclusive Interview on FanLaLa.com of Camplified Alumni Ariana and the Rose!

Friday, November 1st, 2013

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ariana and the Rose Talks Opening for Heffron Drive

Ariana and the Rose

Last year, we got to talk with Ariana and the Rose when she hit the road on the Camplified tour. One year later and she seems to be doing pretty well for herself. After all, who wouldn’t dream of traveling with Heffron Drive star Kendall Schmidt?

Ariana and the Rose is the opening act for Heffron Drive’s winter tour, and we couldn’t be happier for her! We got to talk with Ariana about her music and what it will be like traveling with Kendall. Check it out down below!

F: How would you describe your music’s feel?

AR: I think genre-wise, it’s electropop. They’re singer-songwriter melodies with lyrics set to a darker synth and an electro background. My music is fun to dance to, but listen as well.

F: What was your reaction when you were asked to perform for Heffron Drive?

AR: I was so excited to be able to go on tour and perform for people. Kendall has super-dedicated fans, and being able to reach out to them and perform for them is really exciting.

F: What is your role in Paul McCartney’s new music video?

AR: The video actually features a lot of people listening to the song. I’m featured in it for just a little bit, but it also included actors like Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss. It was just an honor to be on set and meet Paul McCartney. Tom Ford was also on set. It was great to chat with them. It was just a fun set to be on!

F: Your music has been involved with plenty of fashion events around the world – what types of fashion are you into right now?

AR: I think that things that are really simple are in fashion right now, nothing crazy. This spring on the runways, it was muted tones like creams. I’m from New York, so I’m all about not wearing anything black. It’s always cool to see what’s coming next. Right now I’m really into camouflage.

F: Where would you like your music to take you in a year?

AR: I would love for my music to take me everywhere it could possibly go. Touring is my top priority, it’s my favorite thing to be doing. My EP is coming out at the beginning of the year. I’m also writing for a full-length right now. I just want my music to take me to as many cities as possible, and I want as many people as possible to hear it!

F: Can you tell us anything about your EP?

AR: ‘Head Vs Heart’ is going to have four songs on it. The whole record is electronic. It fuses singer-songwriter melodies and lyrics. I play and write on the piano, so the songs are written acoustically. Then we put it in a synth setting. It’s all about exploration of that sound.

So there you have it. Now, when you go see Heffron Drive perform on stage, you’ll know everything there is to know about Ariana as well. We are absolutely LOVING her music, and can’t wait for her EP to come out in 2014. Make sure to listen for it on Fanlala Radio!


See the article and check out others like it on: http://www.fanlala.com/news/exclusive-interview-ariana-and-rose-talks-opening-heffron-drive

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Making Color War Break History : Jeff Lake Camp, The Morning Mash-up and the Best Color War Break Ever!

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Covered in face paint, donned in their team colors, they tug, they run and they shout until their voices go hoarse, and then they shout some more! Ropes are burned, alliances tested, spirits rise and fall.

It’s not last night’s Survivor episode: It’s WAY more intense.

It’s Color War!  One of the oldest and most cherished events in American camping. Campers all across the country wait all year to compete against fellow campers and counselors, knowing as soon as they step foot on camp every summer, Color War could break any minute, surprising everyone and busting out this epic all-camp battle!


Every camp is different. Some do intense multiple day-long events, and some stretch out the competition over the whole summer; but one thing is the same at every camp: It’s all about the break.

Ice cream trucks, celebrity impersonators, hypnotists, live music and flash mobs; color war breaks keep getting better and better! Color War breaks have the near impossible task of being completely unique, highly entertaining, and most of all– they gotta surprise the heck out of hundreds of campers, who just know it’s coming!

Justin Efros, Director at Jeff Lake Camp in Stanhope, New Jersey has been at Jeff Lake for twenty-nine summers now, and he knows how important a spectacular break is! He’s seen some pretty amazing color war breaks: “We’ve had skydivers, monster trucks, dropping ping pong balls from helicopters, a plane with a banner behind it- we’ve had it all!”


But the problem with having amazing Color War breaks, is that they keep getting harder and harder to top. Jeff Lake Program Director, Adam Baranker  was on his second year as “Color War Commissioner”, and he knew had a big job ahead of him.

“The campers are on the edge of their seat each summer waiting for the surprise break out of Color War” Adam says, remarking that Color War is probably most of the camper’s favorite event of the summer and that sixty year old camper alumni still check in on Color War status to see how their beloved Blue or White team is doing. Once a camper is assigned to that team, they are Blue or White lifers, a tradition that Adam thinks makes Color War one of the campers’ favorite event of the summer.

“It is SO cool for our campers to know that they are competing in the same events that were held when camp started in 1958.” And since then, they still have the same chance to make all the difference for their team, “Color War also gives the opportunity for any child to shine. You may not be the greatest athlete, but if you can cheer at the top of your lungs, you will feel like you are contributing to your team’s success!”.

With all that great past and present camper power, comes great responsibility, especially when it comes to planning a break. Adam was looking for something outside the box. Way outside the box,  so he called in reinforcements.

Aimee Berger, director and founder of Camplified, and former camper herself, knows just how important a camp’s break is. When she visits her old camp, Kutsher Sports Academy, color war is always the first memory to come rushing back, “The first thing I think of is Lenny and J.J, my team captains who made Color War because of all their comedic antics, and our hunger for competition. It’s something my brother and I still talk about today.”

So naturally, she’s up for the challenge of helping camps plan a really great break, After 12 years of bringing rock concerts and brand activation onto camp property, my relationships with summer camp directors has gone from professional to personal. For me, this means that they are my friends and we share the bond of camp in common,” she says. “As an executive in the entertainment business, my rolodex has proven more resourceful to me in the world of assisting summer camps then it ever did as a music manager and equally rewarding.”

And so formed the plan:

First, Adam and Aimee created a fake radio contest with SiriusXM’s The Morning Mash Up crew, radio personalities and co-hosts Rich, Nicole, Ryan, and Stanley T. were to come to Jeff Lake and MC the Friday Wigwam Ceremony, the camp’s weekly awards ceremony.

Former Laurel South Camper, Nicole Ryan, was especially honored to have a hand in creating color war memories, “As a radio host, when you get the call to play a role like this at a camp, you immediately reflect on all the amazing Color War breaks you had when you were a kid. Getting asked to assist in making those same memories for other children is something I could not wait to do! Any camp alumni would get it: It’s a camp thing…and there is nothing like it!”

The Morning Mash Up crew sent them two mp3’s before the day they came,

Check out the Morning Mash Up’s Jeff Lake as Semi-Finalists Announcement Here!

And then the day before the break, they sent them a clip of them saying that Jeff Lake had won!

Morning Mash Up announces Jeff Lake as WINNERS! Check it out here!

“Our campers were SO excited that they would be invading camp the next morning” Adam says, though admits to being a little nervous about the plan going smoothly, “The CITs were joking that they knew Color War was maybe on the horizon because of how I was pacing the entire time during Wigwam.”

The Morning Mash Up crew got the party started as they handed out awards, turning WigWam into a giant dance party and campers loved every second of it!

Wanna see the dance party?Check it out here: Wigwam Dance Party!

Jeff Lake Camper, Connor Edge agrees, “They made Wigwam so much fun and my group all loved running down and hugging Nicole when we won Honor Group!”

Watch it here! Honor Group win!

Check out the whole break here!

At the end of Wigwam, The Morning Mash Up crew said they had a surprise for the campers in a box in the car. Adam and Justin took the box out of the car and the crew took off the top off and 200 Blue and White balloons flew out to break Color War 2013.

“The younger campers were all extremely surprised,” Adam gushes. “When the balloons flew out of the box they were so excited. I think the older campers knew something was up my sleeve. Even though they might have suspected it, I think that suspicion is half of the fun!”

And fun it was! “The whole day went off seamlessly, Adam said. “We all said that it was one of the most fun days we have ever experienced!”

Fellow camper, Jenna Jenkins will also remember this break for a long, long time, “This was one of the best breaks ever! The Morning Mash Up started Color War off with a bang and it was so exciting when all of the Blue and White balloons flew out to start the four days of competition!”

Justin is still not sure that campers have finally come down from their Color War Break and Wigwam high. Maybe that memorable break is what inspired the closest Color War final score ever with Blue: 500.5 over White 499.5? Wow! Now that’s close!


But the real question for Jeff Lake is: how will you top this next year?

Adam’s not worried, “Let’s just say I’ve got Aimee Berger on speed dial”


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20 Questions with Arizona Rockband Echo 4our!

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

 Arizona rock band Echo 4our joined the Camplified 2013 team this summer and we’re happy to have them! These South Westerners are influenced by artists such as Blink 182, Simple Plan, and Sum 41.

The band consists of “The Captain” John who sings lead and plays the bass, “Matty” (Matt) rhythm guitarist, “Lowl” (Kyle) lead guitarist and “Muscles” (Mitch) who plays drums. Though busy graduating high school and rocking out on tour, we caught up with them for a quickfire round of questions! So let’s get to know Echo 4our a little bit better…

Did you or any of the band members go to summer camp? If so, which ones?
Sadly, none of us went to summer camps

Favorite hit song playing on the radio today?
Thrift Shop

Favorite classic oldie song?
Kickstart my Heart by Motley Crue

If you could work with any artist who would it be?
Blink 182

What’s one thing you always need on the road?

5 albums you think everyone should have?
Mmhmm – Relient K
No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls – Simple Plan
Wasting Light – Foo Fighters
Black Parade – My Chemical Romance
American Idiot – Green Day

When did you know music was more than a hobby?

It’s still a hobby. As soon as it becomes a job it stops being fun. That’s why we try to have as much fun as possible while still being serious.

If you weren’t so busy on tour, what movies would you be wanting to check out in theatres right now:
Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim.

If you could remake any album, which would you choose?
Thriller – Michael Jackson

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
 Professional football players.

What is your band’s guilty pleasure on the road?

Have any pre-show rituals?
We like to call our parents

A lot of artists are having movies made from their tour experiences (Never say Never, Part of Me) What would yours be called?
Lost in the Echo!

Any celebrity crushes?
John is in love with Rachel Weisz
Mitch and Matt love Kate Upton
Kyle loves Lizzy Hale

Who in the band is most likely to:

Sneak a cell phone into camp? Mitch

Proudly wear a nasty, frayed friendship bracelet he made all year round? Mitch

Sing the loudest at Campfire? John

Choreograph and Lead his entire bunk in a “Michael Jackson” airband (lip synch/dance performance)? Kyle

Break out in a Lady Gaga inspired outfit for costume ball? Matt

Add anything to their peanut butter and Jelly sandwich? (Chips, hotdogs…adventurous with food) Matt

Get homesick at lights out?All of us

Completely forget to write any letters home? Kyle

Find a different “love of his/her life” every year at camp? Mitch


Thanks guys!

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This Girl is on Fire: Savannah Maddison on Inspiration, Following your Dreams and Lebron’s Shoe Size

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Long time performer, first-time Camplifier, Savannah Maddison joined us this summer on the 2013 Camplified tour!

This singer/songwriter/actor is a Florida native, but admits her hearts in Nashville, saying that she is “ trying to convince my parents to move to Nashville, Tennessee. It is the most beautiful magical city in the entire world. I love it there.” She just needs to figure out how to take her best friend with her!

And this girl has got quite a resume! Performing for thousands of fans at multiple huge sporting events, live venues and even starting her own letter writing campaign to military service members, this girl is on a roll! And all before her thirteenth birthday!

We’re lucky enough to sit down and chat with her about Camplified, Taylor Swift and chasing your dreams!


Did you ever go to summer camp? If so, where?
 After the Camplified Tour I went to a summer camp in the Keys. It was a super fun scuba diving camp. It was so intense but in the end I became a certified open water diver!! It was awesome.

What makes a tour like Camplified different from other shows you’ve played?
Camplified is so much fun for me because you are with other artists. I love being able to meet and perform with so many cool artists.

What’s been your favorite part of the Camplified experience?
My favorite part would be meeting all of the kids in the camps and hanging out with them.

What’s it like being one of the youngest performers on the tour?
It’s really fun because I can relate to the kids so much easier.

What advice would you give to girls your age who want to get into the music business?
Never stop chasing your dreams and practice, practice, practice.

What inspires you to write a song?
I write songs about my life experiences. That’s what inspires me.

Is there any artists that really inspire you?
Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood  Adele

If you had to work with one other artist, who would it be?
Carrie Underwood

If you had to sing a duet with another artist, who would it be?
Taylor Swift

What’s your favorite hit song on the radio today?
I have two favorite songs…. Better Dig Two by the Band Perry and Mama’s Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert

You’ve opened a lot of major sporting events singing the national anthem for great teams such as the Florida Marlins or Miami Heat; any memorable moments you can share?
It is always super cool when I get to meet the athletes. I remember when Lebron James and D Wayde said hello to me. One time, I was warming up at the AAA Arena before a Heat game and I got the opportunity to see Lebron James shoes. They were HUGE! . I also have had the opportunity to meet Florida Panther players and some of the Miami Marlins. The mascots might be my favorite. They are always so fun. I have danced on the field with Billy the Marlin.

When you’re not writing and playing music, what else do you like to do?
 I really enjoy gymnastics and I love animals. I also love being on the water.

Can you tell us a little bit about Savannah Soldiers?
Savannah’s Soldiers is a National Organization that I started just over a year and a half ago when I found out that my best friends dad was being deployed to Afghanistan. It is a letter writing campaign that challenges kids and adults alike to encourage our deployed military by simply writing a letter. I travel the country speaking and performing for thousands of kids in schools, churches, and other organizations spreading the word and collecting letters. To date we have collected and mailed directly to our deployed troops 50,000 letters. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings! If your readers would like more information about how they can get involved please visit my website savannahmaddison.com or facebook Savannah’s Soldiers.

Check out the interview on the Today show here!

Thanks Savannah! We can’t wait to see what she’s up to next!

Follower Savannah on twitter @SavannahM143

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Being Forward with REVERSE ORDER

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Grammy nominated, and a producer’s pick for AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, Camplified is stoked to have REVERSE ORDER on the ticket this year!

REVERSE ORDER formed in 2008 as a dynamic pop rock band  combining powerful teen anthems with driving guitars and infectious melodies. Their unique blend of two lead vocalists sets them apart from most bands in their genre. Along with Camplified, these guys have been performing over 500 self-booked shows highlighted by two Bamboozle appearances, a Vans Warped Tour appearance, 5 national tours, and constant features on Local and National TV, Reverse Order is taking the music industry by storm.

The band consists of: John Russo – Lead Vocals, Guitar (@ReverseJohn) Cruise Russo – Drums, Vocals (@CruiseRusso) Drew Katsock- Guitar (@ReverseDrew) Frank Spangler- Bass (@FrankSpangla)

Did you or any of the band members go to summer camp? If so, which ones?
Cruise and John both went to Basketball Summer Camp, and the National Guitar Workshop. Drew went to band camp.

What do you think of the whole experience of summer camps?
Although we’ve been to camp before, we’ve never been to the generic summer camp sleeping in cabins and doing camp activities. We all had so much fun doing the various activities at the camps, and now we wish we had gone as kids! Haha.

Favorite hit song playing on the radio today?
John: That’s a good question! I think it would have to be “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” by Fall Out Boy, or “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk.

If you could work with any artist who would it be?
If we could work with any artist, I think we could all agree on someone like Patrick Stump.

What was most memorable show you ever did? Why?
The most memorable show we ever did was when we performed live on America’s Got Talent because how often do you get to do that! Haha. It was just a great experience performing live in front of all the people who were in the venue and watching on their TVs.

What’s one thing you always need on the road?
Food! We eat a lot haha. We have a box of snakcs, and always pick up more whenever we stop.

If you weren’t so busy on tour, what movies would you be wanting to check out in theatres right now:
John: The Conjuring! I love horror movies!

Have any pre-show rituals?
Warm up, drink lots of water, and use the bathroom. We tried to start this thing where we put our hands in the middle and yell out a random fruit before each show, but it didn’t catch on haha.

A lot of artists are having movies made from their tour experiences (Never say Never, Part of Me) What would yours be called?
The Super Awesome Reverse Order Extravaganza

Any celebrity crushes?
John: Emilia Clarke 

Who in the band is most likely to:

Sneak a cell phone into camp?  Definitely Drew. The rest of us don’t use our phones that much, but Drew always has his on him at all times.

Proudly wear a nasty, frayed friendship bracelet he made all year round? I think this would also be Drew haha. He never takes his bracelets off.

Sing the loudest at Campfire? John would sing the loudest, no doubt.

Choreograph and Lead his entire bunk in a “Michael Jackson” airband (lip synch/dance performance)? This could quite possibly be all of us! We tend to break out into song and dance often.

Break out in a Lady Gaga inspired outfit for costume ball? Well, we do eat a lot, and she did wear a meat suit….so once again I think all of us haha.

Add anything to their peanut butter and Jelly sandwich? (Chips, hotdogs…adventurous with food): Cruise is the resident Reverse Order chef. He would be the most likely to experiment

Get homesick at lights out? I think we all enjoy being on the road and seeing different places. We all get a little homesick, but we all would rather be having fun doing different things and seeing different places.

Completely forget to write any letters home? That would be John. He has been known to forget to call back home haha.

Want more Reverse Order?:

“We recently released a brand new song on iTunes called Waiting. It was produced by Rob Freeman who did Stereo Hearts by Adam Levine, and is the Writer/Guitarist of Hidden In Plain View.  Here is the iTunes link:



We also have a new music video up for our song “Go” on www.youtube.com/reverseorder The direct link is below:



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Guest Blog: Camping with KLIPSCH by Anthony Natoli

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

When I was thirteen years old, I got my first four-track Tascam recorder and a set of computer speakers for Christmas. I was ecstatic. As a kid I would often watch my uncle, a professional guitarist, track ideas on his advanced gear. As I sat next to him, I would be in awe of the magic he was capturing on audio, and from an early age I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Although looking back it wasn’t as elaborate of a setup as I thought, it was still enough to blow my mind. One day I asked him how much it all cost, to which he simply replied, “Just don’t touch it.” Well, it was only a matter of time before I disobeyed that order. I started sneaking around, playing with it when no one was there to see, thinking he didn’t notice. He did. When I was confronted, I wasn’t yelled at like I thought I would be- he simply showed me how it all worked.

Fast forward to the age of twenty-seven. Now I’m a professional songwriter and producer on a team called The Force, with songs out on major labels all over the world, with a studio on Long Island that I work from. I wouldn’t say I’m an authority on gear, but I have bought a lot of it in my life. I’ve listened through many different systems, and I think at this point it’s safe to say I could guide someone to making the right choice for their audio experience based on what they’re looking for.

Along with being a writer and producer, I often take jobs as a tour manager. This summer I was approached by Camplified to come out and spend four weeks with a bunch of artists, crew and gear from various companies. Camplified is a traveling tour that brings the rock concert experience to various camps throughout the country during the summer.  When I arrived on my first day, there was a little package waiting for me. It was the KMC3 from Klipsch. I had never heard of them before, but I was intrigued, as I’ve been shopping for a personal home system that doesn’t make me hate listening to music. I can be a bit of a snob sometimes.

As we were unpacking the various gear from sponsors, I couldn’t stop thinking about that boom box. Anything I’ve heard over the last few years really hadn’t blown me away, so I was antsy to open it up and check it out. I snuck away to my hotel room and plugged it in thinking it would probably be shut down like the rest in a matter of seconds. Well, I was wrong. I ran a mix I’d been working on, one I knew intimately, to see how it compared to my expensive studio monitors. To say I was floored is an understatement.

I bought my girlfriend a BOSE system for Christmas last year. At the time I thought it was the best of the lot, but the truth was I felt nothing listening to it. If I had known about this unit, it would have been a different story. The first thing that caught my attention was the low end. As a standard listener she doesn’t care about these things, but as a professional musician, watching a movie through garbage speakers doesn’t make the experience any better. With the KMC3, on the other hand, I was feeling the thud in my chest from the kick drum and bass.

An important note before I move on: I like listen to things loud. I don’t care what it sounds like low, bring that thing to eleven and kick me in the face. I actually had to lower this unit down for fear of loosening a few teeth. Here’s the thing, though- it’s not just loud, it’s clear. Listening to nuances in the music and vocals of a track is extremely important to me. Often I don’t get that flat, clear response from comparable systems. Usually they’re masked by some terrible EQ setting that doesn’t help the mix, and in fact ruins it. The KMC3 definitely delivered what I was looking for.

A quick plug-in-and-test turned into thirty minutes of intense listening. I can see myself using this unit in many ways. First off, I’d love to use something like this on the road as a reference monitor. One of the artists on my tour was sixteen year-old Ares Carter, a producer and DJ from New York who’s doing some cool stuff- it’s not dubstep and it’s not just dance music. I can hear his influences, yet it’s definitely his own brand of music, and I love that. He uses lots of heavy riffs that remind me of a rock-influenced EDM. Labels aside, his music carries a lot of low end. We got to hanging out on tour, and I used this unit for his DJ clinic. Ares told me it’s the kind of thing he would use for small house parties or just chilling with friends, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s got an eight inch input on the back for either an iPod or a mixing station, which is convenient, but it’s also Bluetooth-compatible. I wasn’t sure how that would sound, but when I compared direct-in with a gold tipped cable and the Bluetooth connection, I lost zero quality.

Another plus, it’s super lightweight and not very large. It could fit inside luggage, which is extremely convenient for a professional on the move like myself. Not to mention, in matte black it looks bad-ass.

As a professional who’s been working for most of my adult life, I can say with confidence that this is the sound system I’ll be using at home from here on. Whether it’s referencing mixes, watching movies or just playing some demos to write to on the fly, Klipsch KMC3….I choose you. In black.

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Guest Blog: Teen singers rock at Camplified Tour as part of Girl Scouts family fest Upbeat music from young performers

Monday, August 5th, 2013



08/03/13–The GSHNJ Camplified music festival is moved indoors at Camp DeWitt in Hillsborough, due to rainy weather. Country singer Ali Isabella of Westchester County, New York, prepares to do a little sound check before performing her song set later in the day. KATHY JOHNSON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

At Camp DeWitt in Hillsborough, a troop from Nutley has an indoor picnic during the festival.

At Camp DeWitt in Hillsborough, a troop from Nutley has an indoor picnic during the festival. / KATHY JOHNSON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

— Camp DeWitt, a facility of the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, rocked to rafters Saturday when the council invited the 2013 Camplified Tour to perform as part of its Family Fest. The first-ever Girl Scouts family festival was open to everyone, including currently registered Girl Scouts, girls potentially interested in joining Girl Scouts and families.

The 2013 Camplified Tour is a high-energy music tour that travels throughout the country with young music artists who appeal to youngsters, tweens and young teens, performing at local camps to draw attention to the joys of camping. Sponsored by companies such as Earpeace, High Sierra, VitaCoco, Cartoon Network, Scholastic and CampMor, the tour also brings activities such as a guitar clinic and jam session powered by You Rock Guitars; vocal training powered by Roland’s VT-12; Campified Adventure Race, which is much like a scavenger hunt, powered by High Sierra, and “Oh Sit” musical chairs, powered by Scholastic. The Camp DeWitt event also included Girl Scout workshops, crafts, a giant game of Concentration, picnics and more.

In a media statement, the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, which has an office in the North Branch section of Branchburg, said: “The first-ever family music festival’s interactive experience will allows girls and families alike to enjoy the fun that has made the Girl Scout movement an important part of girls’ lives for generations.”

The rain on Saturday morning discouraged some families from coming to the event, but there was a healthy turnout, including some Brownies and Girl Scouts in uniforms. The children who attended enjoyed the door prizes of earplugs, tattoos, carabinneers, T-shirts, backpacks and sunglasses. The High Sierra Adventure Race even gave away whoopie cushions, which the kids could uses as pranks on their friends and siblings. All participants received a 2013 Camplified tour poster and Girl Scouts received an all-access photo pass with codes for music downloads from each artist on the tour.


Staff writer Pamela MacKenzie: 908-243-6616, pmackenzie@njpress

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Required Reading: A chat with featured Scholastic author Tui T Sutherland

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Tui. T Sutherland has written over 30 books for children and teens, ranging in age from sticker books and easy-to-reads (Meet Mo and Ella, Fun with Mo and Ella) to middle-grade and YA novels such as THIS MUST BE LOVE, the AVATARS trilogy, Pet Trouble series, her new Series, a big epic five-book dragon fantasy called Wings of Fire (featured on the CAMPLIFIED tour!), and many more!

We’re  lucky enough to get the chance to ask her all about her own summer camp days and what’s on her reading list this summer!

What does summer camp mean to you?
When I think of summer camp, I think of cabins in the woods, canoeing, capture the flag games, learning to tie knots, swimming in a lake, campfires (and campfire songs), roasting marshmallows, and ghost stories.  I have really clear images of all those things in my head, which is funny, because none of my summer camps ever had any of those things!  (My summer activities usually involved theatre or creative writing…and air conditioning!)  J  I must have gotten my images of camp from books, or perhaps from my Girl Scout experiences when I was younger—I was a Girl Scout for 8 years, although mostly while I was living in South America, so we didn’t do a lot of camping…but we did learn to tie knots and roast marshmallows!
I went to my first sleepaway summer camp when I was twelve, and it was at a college, so we stayed in dorms and ate in the college cafeteria.  I was there to study Biology for 3 weeks (which was awesome, because it meant I didn’t have to do Biology in school the next year, and 3 weeks of dissecting things was MORE than enough for me!).  There were no woods, no marshmallows, no campfires, and no lake at all (but there was a great frozen yogurt place across the street…).  It may not sound like fun, but it really was, because living in a dorm with friends was so awesome—and all our free time activities were great—and all the other kids were sweet and funny and total nerds like me.  I absolutely loved it!
So I’d say summer camp really means making great friends in a new place where you get to practice becoming whoever you really want to be.


Can you remember what popular books were milling around the bunk when you went to camp?

Hmmm…I remember listening to They Might Be Giants and The Go-Gos on repeat with all my friends during my first summer camp, but I don’t remember us sharing our reading lists (I wish we had!).  Oh, I do remember a lot of my friends around then reading V.C. Andrews, but I wasn’t allowed to!  (My mom said no to Sweet Valley High books and Stephen King, too, so I was quite deprived.)  J  I think during my summer camp years I was reading things like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, Anna to the Infinite Power by Mildred Ames (about clones! very exciting!), Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara series, anything by Charles Dickens (I really clearly remember the moment I finished Nicholas Nickleby (which is super long!) and yet now I could not tell you one single thing about that book), anything by Roald Dahl, and The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts.


What are the top books on your reading list this summer?
Right now I’m reading Prodigy, the sequel to Legend by Marie Lu, which I loved—I decided I had to read her trilogy when I found out Marie and I would both be writers for the new Spirit Animals series, and I’m so glad I did because it’s fantastic!  Next up I’m planning to read Empire of Ivory, the fourth book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series.  I love these books—historical fiction plus dragons!—and it’s always fun to be reading about dragons while I’m writing about dragons (as I’m in the middle of book 5 of Wings of Fire right now).  My current to-read pile also has Ungifted by Gordon Korman, A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler, and The Statistical Improbability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith.  And I’m really hoping someone will give me Life After Life by Kate Atkinson for my birthday this month, because I adore all her books and can’t wait to read this one!

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what are you listening to a lot right now?
I can’t listen to music while I write, although I wish I could, but my favorite thing to listen to all the rest of the time right now is an Elizabeth Mitchell channel I set up on Pandora that has some awesome Imogen Heap, Lily Allen, Ingrid Michaelson, and Regina Spektor on it, among other things!


A lot of camps these days are UNPLUGGED, no cell phone, no computer, no iPads, no readers: how hard would it be for you to unplug?
If I had enough books to read, I think I’d be OK!  J  It might be hard to detox from checking my email every ten minutes, and it would be weird not having my computer to write every day…but I’ll admit it would probably be really good for me to step away from the Internet for a while!

Got any good read recommendations for campers that are packing their bags?
Of course!  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech are both completely amazing, as is anything by Diana Wynne Jones (start with Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air, or the Chrestomanci books).  I also loved Holes by Louis Sachar (now there’s a camp you don’t want to go to!).

A few of the best books I’ve read in the last couple years:  The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater—so so great!, The Tricksters by Margaret Mahy, and Kristin Cashore’s three wonderful books, Graceling and Fire and Bitterblue.

A couple of my all-time favorites:  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (read it before your teacher makes you and I bet you’ll love it!) and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

And for anyone who wants to be a writer and hopes to spend their free time at camp working on stories (bring a notebook!), Stephen King’s book On Writing is one of my favorite writing books ever.

Oh, and there’s this dragon series called Wings of Fire which I’ve heard is pretty good . . .  :)


 Would we be most likely to find you reading ___________   or __________on the beach in the summer?

 Twilight or The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Goosebumps


 Where the Wild Things Are or I’ll Love you Forever

Where the Wild Things Are (I have two hilarious little “wild things” at home, so I can recite this whole book for you if you like!)

 Lord of the Rings or World War Z

Lord of the Rings

Bridget Jones’s Diary or Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Thanks Tui!

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Some More Guest Blog Love: Camp Friendship gets CAMPLIFIED!

Monday, July 29th, 2013

girl play the piano at camp To say we had fun with Camplified is an understatement. Camp Friendship had an extraordinary, Camplified filled day and we were very sad to see it end. The bands, Ali Isabella, Reverse Order, and Audio Revival astounded us with their musical talent and impressed us with their enthusiasm. After reviewing the many pictures I took that day, it was obvious our campers had an insanely great time. There were so many awesome activities and memorable moments that day, so I decided to ask some of our campers which they enjoyed the most.

First I talked to senior village camper, Julian, who had a fantastic experience. Camplified wanted two campers to interview the members of the bands and their fellow campers. Yes, Julian was one of our Camp Friendship reporters that day. “It was great to be able toboys playing the drums at camp hang out with all the bands and do things that other people couldn’t do,” said Julian, who was very appreciative of his opportunity. Not only did he get to partake in interviews, but he was given a High Sierra backpack and other apparel. He even was in a photo-shoot for Camplified!

Julian wasn’t the only camper spending time with the bands. The morning was filled with guitar playing, an Amazing Race Camplified style, and a photo booth. Members of the bands joined in all the activities. They even played some intense games of musical chairs with our campers! “I liked the musical chairs because we got a prize even if we lost!” shared one lively junior camper, Sam. In fact, flashlights, backpacks, and other prizes were given out all morning!

young girls smiling and won prizes Prizes were seen everywhere with our campers all day and later that night at the concert. The music was pumping, and so was the crowd of Camp Friendship campers. First, Ali Isabella got CF geared up with her crazy good voice.  “I love how she sang country!” said junior camper, Arijana. With the amount of cheers I heard when Ali played, I’d say Arijana wasn’t the only country music fan! When Reverse Order played their cover of “Dynamite,” the campers went ecstatic and began dancing and singing along. Then we rocked out with Audio Revival who kept the energy high by jamming on their guitars and letting campers share the microphones with them. The night was epic! To get a little taste of Camplified at Camp Friendship, take a look at this week’s video “A Camplified Camp Friendship!” 

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Camplified 2013: Stories from the Road

Friday, July 26th, 2013

As CAMPLIFIED finishes off its first month of music, games and laughter, we thought we’d share with you some of our favorite highlights from the road.. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the fast food, maybe it’s the fumes from the color war paint,—but this is about the time in the trip where things get a little interesting.

So let’s take a minute to reflect on what a long, strange trip it’s been so far.


Some “Firsts” for everyone:


Singer/Songwriter Jimmy Law who joined the tour for the first time on July 11 tells us, “Coming in to play in new places for new audiences everyday can be like walking in on the first day of school. Meeting campers, spending time with them, talking, and finding out about their lives is like playing for a bunch of really good friends. There’s no experience like it.”


And it’s that same intimate artist/audience feeling that allows everyone to get real comfortable with each other. Real comfortable.


 “One kid asked me to sign his nipple,” Law recalls. Another camper took his sweat rag as a souvenir, and multiple campers asked for his phone number!! I’m sure that won’t be the last time he has to deal with that…


As hard as it might be to believe, Crew member, Jake had his first monumental fast food experience mid way through the tour. As assistant tour manager, Ashley explained: “Jake had never been to Taco Bell!! Also, he’d never personally driven through a drive-thru. Success!”


Now those are memories that will last a lifetime. And Jake, beware, the heartburn also lasts a while.



The “Fame-bug” bites :


Hip-hop artist Chuck Threezy says, “A question we all kept getting asked was, are you guys famous? To this I would respond: define famous.”


Would people who aren’t famous get a bucket of ice dumped over their head?



Of Threezy’s ice bath, Crew member, Daniel says “We wanted to let him know how much we love him!”


The fans have spoken!


Some Fashion tips we’ve picked up along the way:


If popALERT ever shows up in Us Weekly’s “Who Wore it Best”, hopefully they won’t pick on their matching skills too much: “We try to match our colors for our summer shows, but we ended up wearing five different shades of green to the Massasoit Camp, and that was after everyone agreed on the bright green color swatch. Funny thing is that some of the kids let us know it.”



Beyond the Suns Colin Radu finally ended a fashion mystery for all of his fans, “Colin was asked how he could sing with braces on,” Phil Radu says.  “We think it’s what gives him his edge.”


And then there are some of those real warm and fuzzy memories…


 “We met a little girl with cancer in one of the camps and a bunch of campers told me this is the best day of camp so far.” Law says, “It’s been a very special experience for me.”


Now those are the kind of forever memories we’re talking about!


So now you can see what an amazing time we’re all having as the tour drives on!

We’re having a good time!




A special thanks to the camps we’ve visited these past two weeks for chalking up some more memorable moments with us: Camp Frank A. Day YMCA Camp, World Sports Camp, Bridgewater JCC Camp Ruach, Pierce Day Camp ,YMCA Southcoast and Camp Kinder Ring,  Camp Golden Slipper, Berkshire-Hills Emanuel Resident Camp, Camp Greenwood Trails,  Camp Cory Resident Camp, Camp Fanwood, Camp Blue Ridge, and Camp Thunderbird, Deer Mountain Day Camp, Camp Louemma, Camp Friendship, Eagles Landing & the Night Owls!


And the journey continues on! We’re hitting the road again to Camp Kingswood, Easton Community Center, Camp Hilltop,  and Cedar Lake/NJY Camps!



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