‘Road to Camp Bisco’ – Lauren Fulwiler
To Bisco, or not to Bisco. In the beginning of the summer of 2011 that was the question going through my head. I had fallen deeply in love with music festivals years before, seeing the simplification effect festivals had on people. During festival season, anxiety decreases, money holds less value, individual possessions like tents and food become shared, personal space and comfort become sacrificed, and people are able to finally, if only once a year, clearly see what is most important in life. Festival life is centered around the unity of strangers, and the shared love of life and music.
So, back to the question, to Bisco or not to Bisco. I was (not that I have come a long way in this department) living on a poor college kid’s budget. And the only people I knew going to Camp Bisco were driving from Kentucky, while I was living in Chicago. The odds were against me. On a whim, I decided to check out the Camp Bisco Rideshare page that fans had put together to help festivalgoers carpool to get there. From that page, I connected with a guy who was determined to go to Camp Bisco, and was hoping not to drive alone. We emailed back and forth over the next couple of weeks, and eventually recruited two more strangers to think about the trip. I debated the idea for weeks, and decided only a few days before we were scheduled to leave; it’s not in my nature to miss out on an adventure!
The driver of the car came and picked me up from the train station (I took a picture of his license plate in case I was never seen again), and before I knew it, we were off to Camp Bisco! The entire 15-hour journey the four of us shared more than just driving duties. In fact we spent the entire weekend telling our own festival stories, sharing new music with each other, and having one of the most amazing adventures of my life!
These Kids are Die Hard
The driver and I were both volunteering for a free ticket, so we had to be on the grounds by 8 or 9 am, which meant setting up a tent on the side of the road while waiting. Volunteering at the festival was incredible. I was lucky enough to work the front gate, so for two mornings in a row I got to hang out with all the entering campers, so hyped on life they literally could not contain it. I took a survey of which artist people were most excited to see, and ended up receiving recommendations which I would have never considered otherwise. One kid in line to get in had somehow dropped his ticket in the panel of his car door. We stood around not knowing what to do, and eventually the kid agreed to letting us rip off the panel in order to retrieve the ticket, which we did successfully!
No Strangers Here – Just New Friends
One night, I was wandering back to my campsite alone, and I thought I had a good idea of where we had camped, but the spot I had in mind was filled with a group of people I didn’t recognize, so I kept walking past it. It took me several walks up and down the aisle before I finally realized…this was our spot; a group of strangers had taken over our chairs and were lounging at our spot. Of course I joined them, because what is a “stranger” at Camp Bisco? And we sat in a circle and talked until the sun came up.
One morning I was trying to fly a kite, mainly unsuccessfully. That night (10 hours later), still carrying my kite, two guys came up to me and told me they had watched me from afar, trying to fly the kite for approximately two hours, sitting on the edge of their seat hoping the thing would fly. It never did, but when they stopped me that night, they hugged me anyway and we danced in the rain and watched the sun go down.
A New Family
That summer at Camp Bisco, the 3 strangers I drove with were able to meet my friends from Kentucky, and now our whole group is planning to return for a second round. That summer, our campsite grew from 4 people to 8, to 12, within the first hour of setting up. Not only did our whole group interact as if we were all old friends, but the people camping near us shared the same mentality. By the end of the weekend I was trading mimosas with our camping neighbors in exchange for use of their tent (did I mention that I brought with me one bag, and no camping supplies?). I found out recently, that the 3 people I drove with, formerly strangers, just signed a lease together on an apartment.
In my opinion, festivals are so powerful, by being so simple, that my mentality during “real life” has change to reflect more of the values learned through festival life. Coming back to festivals each year is like coming home to the family I’ve been missing all year. Good people with good vibes, and good music, what more could we ask for?