top of page

Some Tips From Experience


This section adapted from “Getting Ready for Camp,” an article by Lissy Abraham that appeared in the April 2006 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine. For more information, scroll down to the Packing List.

Prioritize your goals.

Think about what you want to get out of camp. To be a better jammer? To learn a specific style? To try a new instrument? Just to have fun? Narrowing your focus can help you prioritize so you don't run yourself ragged (and learn nothing) trying to do it all. Many teachers overload students so that they'll have something to work on the rest of the year; don't expect to master (or even remember) all the material you're given.

Arrive well rested.

Get plenty of sleep the week before you go. Many worthwhile jams happen late at night, and most camps don't provide a lot of down time. You'll probably come home exhausted, so don't start out that way.


Strengthen you calluses and vocal chords.

For at least a month or two before camp, play as much as you can to develop your calluses. You'll be bummed if you can't participate due to sore fingers. If you're a singer, get your voice in shape by singing least a half hour a day for a few weeks before camp. It's OK if you can't do a major musical workout; even 5 or 10 minutes a day can help.

Tune up your instrument.

While you're getting your body in shape for camp, don't forget about your instrument. If anything's loose or the action's not right, now is the time to get it checked out. At the very least, put on new strings before you go.

Get a gig bag.

For carrying around your instrument, a gig bag instead of a heavy hardshell case is invaluable. If you're traveling by air and need to bring a hard case, pack the gig bag with clothes and check it as luggage so you'll have it at the other end.


Bring special arrangements of tunes.

Most jams won't require charts, but if you want to play more complicated tunes (or originals) with a small group or in a performance, bring charts. If you have recordings of special songs you might want to teach others, bring them on CDs, tapes, or an mp3 player.

Review your repertoire.

Avoid having to stop and say, "I used to know how to play this song" by brushing up on your tunes.


Write your name on your stuff.

Get an indelible marker and write your name on everything you bring! You'd be amazed at what turns up in the Lost & Found after camp—from bathing suits (check the shower!) to expensive instruments. On that last sleep-deprived day, a packing list might be the only way you'll return home with everything you came with.

The Packing List


The weather is usually hot in the daytime and cool at night. Check the forecast for Carmel Valley. We strongly encourage you to write your name on everything you bring and check the lost and found before you go home!

Clothing & Personal Items

  • Jeans or other long pants, shorts, shirts, socks, and so on

  • Bathing suit

  • Sturdy shoes

  • Jacket or sweater

  • Sunhat

  • Dress-up clothes for the dance (optional—jeans and T-shirts are fine too)

  • Bedding (sleeping bag or sheets and blankets, and a pillow)

  • Towels (for yourself and an old towel or bathmat for the floor)

  • Toiletries, including sunscreen and mosquito repellent*

  • Personal medications, eyeglasses, etc.

  • Note: DEET (found in many repellents) can damage the finish on your instrument. Two alternatives to DEET repellents have been deemed effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. If you can’t find them at drug stores or camping stores, try health food stores.

Safety Smarts

  • Camp is in the woods, with all the critters big & small that also live there, such as mosquitos, raccoons, various bugs and bears.

  • If you’re tenting, be sure to pack any food for storing it in the buildings and toiletries to keep in the bathrooms.

  • Remember to always keep your tents scent free of yummy smells that may attract the critters, always carry a flashlight at night, and be attentive to your surroundings

Please don’t bring

  • Electric instruments or amplifiers (except for use at dance or student concert)

  • Weapons

  • Illegal drugs

  • Pets

  • Video cameras

Don’t forget!

  • Flashlights

  • Calling card, if you plan to make phone calls. Cell phone reception is limited and dependent upon your provider’s coverage, and we never know which works best!

  • Your instrument! And any others (acoustic) you have that you might want to play or let others play

  • Earplugs

  • Audio recorder and blank media (teachers permit you to record classes; use batteries)

  • Small folding chair or camp stool to sit on during class; best not to have arms on it so you have room for your instrument

  • Opaque container if you plan to consume alcohol (Why? See our FAQ.)

Other suggestions

  • Water bottle

  • Camera

  • Music stand

  • Extra strings

  • Songbooks

  • Watch or small alarm clock

  • Sporting equipment, such as a Frisbee or ping-pong paddle

  • Special food or beverages (including coffee and coffee-making supplies, if you’re particular)

  • Wheels or a dolly for your bass or other heavy instrument

  • Music-related donations for the CCMC raffle (instruments, CDs, books, and so on)

  • Solar hanging lights

  • Fans

bottom of page