welcome campers - william mcgrath - lead-in

Welcome Campers – An Interview with The Wild Honey Pie’s Eric Weiner – Part 2

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Hop on a bus. Get off at a sleep-away camp. Spend two days there, and listen to top bands while participating in camp activities and reliving summer days of old.

That’s the gist of “Welcome Campers” an annual event for adults organized by the New York-based music company The Wild Honey Pie.

Last year, we interviewed Eric Weiner, the founder of The Wild Honey Pie, about the company’s innovative Dinner Party series.

We’re happy to have him back for this second Q&A installment about the Welcome Campers festival.

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photo of eric weiner by sara lauferPortrait of Eric Weiner; photo by Sara Laufer

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1. Welcome back, Eric.  Tell us a little bit about “Welcome Campers.” How did you get the idea? How has it been received so far? Who’s played the festival in the past?

Good to be back! Welcome Campers has evolved into an all-inclusive music festival meets adult summer camp. It began as more of a video production concept hosted at the home of my parents in Westchester, New York. The event has taken place in New York, Texas, and now seems to have its more permanent home in Massachusetts. The idea really stems from my time as a camper and then counselor at summer camp in Pennsylvania. Some of my most cherished memories come from those years of my life, and we have found a way to recreate the magic of camp for grownups in a musical setting. The festival has been extremely well received. The biggest complaint we get is really that we only do it once a year. It is so nice to pay one price and have everything included in the ticket; food, alcohol and lodging are no extra cost. The response from artists has also been profound. Talib Kweli, Wild Child, Great Good Fine Ok, Freelance Whales, SKATERS, Yoke Lore, Overcoats, Salt Cathedral, and Widowspeak have all been involved in the past and we have our most stacked lineup yet this year.

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2. Did you ever attend camp? What were some of your favorite memories and songs from that period?

I sure did. I went to Island Lake in Starrucca, Pennsylvania. I was mostly homesick when I when I went to camp but found a way to cherish my time as well. I loved being in the musicals and doing arts and crafts. I remember taking photography and making plenty of tie dye. I have a hard time remembering most of the music except for “Build Me Up Buttercup,” which was an Island Lake staple. We play it all the time at Welcome Campers now too.

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558a0914sarasaraPhoto by Sara Laufer

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3. What should people expect from Welcome Campers? Is it for all tastes? Is it a festival like no other? The upsides? The downsides?

Welcome Campers expands the boundaries of what it means to be a music festival and allows campers an experience unlike any other. Food, alcohol, lodging, festival merchandise, and live music are all included starting at $300 which guests quickly realize is pretty unfathomable. We can do this thanks to the support of some incredible companies who believe in our vision and want to see us succeed. Folks companies like CLIF and previously Squarespace who allow us the opportunity to continue dreaming up the unimaginable and making it a reality for the 450 people in attendance.

The event is indeed for all tastes. If you live for the outdoors and wellness, we have hiking, basketball, dodgeball, kayaking, swimming, kickball, yoga and more. For those who want to be more low key, we have arts and crafts and no required activities. You can lay on your ass in the grass all day if you so please. Welcome Campers is also a more comfortable music festival. Transportation is easy, we have a massive parking lot for those who drive and comfy buses from Brooklyn which play camp movies like Wet Hot American Summer and Parent Trap on the way to Camp Lenox. You never have to sleep on the ground, we have beds for everyone and fully functioning bathrooms. No porta potties!

I suppose the downside is that we currently only host the event once a year. Hoping to change that in 2020 depending on how we do this year.

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4. Do you have a favorite story concerning Welcome Campers? Care to share? Also, who’s been the best camper so far? The worst?

I have too many favorite memories to choose a favorite! How could you make me do that? Each year has been so special and so different than the next. Last year we had a very festive color war break which I will always remember. People were so into the games last year I was shocked. Another moment that sticks out in my memory is when we had clowns come to break color war. Campers were freaked out. I guess I really just love color war and finding way to surprise people. My favorite campers has to be Jay Goodman previously of the band Snowmine. He played one of our other events and loved it so much he decided to come to Welcome Campers. Has not missed it since he joined us in 2014.

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1111Courtesy of Noisy Ghost PR & The Wild Honey Pie

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5. What are your top five songs about summer?

These are either about summer or remind me of summer. “Summer Skin” by Death Cab for Cutie, “Cayucos” by Cayucas, “You’re So Last Summer” by Taking Back Sunday, “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys, “Marathon” by Tennis. Here are some bonus tracks for you too: “Deadbeat Summer” by Neon Indian, “Awake” by Tycho.

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558a1325sarasaraPhoto by Sara Laufer

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PHOTO CREDITS

All photos courtesy of The Wild Honey Pie;

Lead-in photo by William McGrath;

Campfire and tie-dye photos by Sara Laufer; and

String lights photo courtesy of Noisy Ghost PR and The Wild Honey Pie.