The inaugural Dirtybird Campout East was a wild adventure to say the very least. Head Counselor Claude was on the ground with campers every step of the way, getting weird, starting shenanigans and soaking up all the love from Campout’s East Coast Community. We sat down with Papa Claude and reflected on his own time in Florida, what challenges he faced and how it ending up becoming one of the most magical weekends of his life. Here’s what he had to say!
Friday presented some unforeseen issues that challenged the Campout community, both campers and staff alike. As Head Counselor Claude, what were the hardest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Getting past the initial impact and shock the news had on me was the biggest challenge I had to overcome. When I first heard we were getting canceled my heart sank so deep into my chest, and I was immediately overwhelmed with the most intense feelings of sadness and anxiety. I couldn’t handle it. I left the office and sat alone for 40 minutes, completely paralyzed by the idea of losing this event and disappointing so many excited East Coast campers. Finally, my head and heart just wouldn’t accept the fate in front of me, and something snapped. My brain went into fight mode, and I ran back to start supporting the team and to find out exactly what was going on. At that point, the cards were not in our favor. The reality of Campout East was fading fast, but I knew I couldn’t give up hope.
Throughout the day while all this was going on, I kept going out into the festival to play games and talk to the campers. Even though there was no music, everyone’s positivity and excitement kept me moving and pushing through. While my wife and Dede Flemming were at the courthouse, I remembered Ketan, my partner from Joox music was from Florida and onsite at the festival. After hours of dead ends, Ketan finally got a lead in our favor, but we wouldn’t get confirmation until Saturday morning. At that point, it was getting late and I needed to start telling campers onsite what was happening. I was scared, but I found the courage and drove out to the campsites with a megaphone and just started talking to the attendees and telling them what we knew. All I could do was ask them to believe, stay positive and trust that we were doing everything in our power to turn this around.
Despite the struggles and setbacks that happened, Friday turned into an unforgettable night and reconfirmed what Campout is all about, community and family. I couldn’t have made it through without the support and unconditional love from the East Coast campers and our global community who was rooting us on from all around the world.
Campout East debuted an array of unique offerings and activities, some planned and unplanned, including late-night games, ax throwing, alligator wrestling, a SuperB Owl Party, plus more. What was your favorite new East Coast addition you’d like to see return?
Late night soccer with the Brazilian Team! Even though I got worked and could barely walk the next day, it was a blast. I really enjoyed the semi-acoustic set by Pillowtalk, which was originally not planned but transpired after we had to shift the schedules to make it all fit. That experience has inspired the idea to add some more vibey vocal-based music that doesn’t require tons of bass or volume on The Bunkhouse. I also really liked the addition of all the zip line and nature tours, it made it feel like real summer camp even more. The color team leaders, referees and activities crew did an amazing job and really stepped up Friday, working extra shifts to rally and pull everyone together.
We know you don’t like to play favorites, but what musical artists really blew you away this time around?
DJ Tennis really impressed me with his amazing attitude and amazing music. &ME and Adam Port were fantastic. Ivy Lab and Eprom were so sick. Madam X on the games field and the decks as well!! Soul Clap and Pillowtalk DJing for Bingo was great. I also met some of my heroes like Roni Size and Biz Markie who were all great, but unfortunately this year because of the issues I didn’t make it to everyone’s set which is something I really pride myself on doing. I missed meeting LTJ Bukem (dang it!) and I didn’t get to say hi to my friend Pearson Sound. That part was kind of a bummer for me, but I heard all the artists had an incredible time. When they’re having as much fun as the campers, it feels good.
How did the East Coast fans make this Campout experience different and unique?
The fans supported us in a way that I don’t think I have ever experienced before in my entire life. They literally lifted us up and brought the highest level of spirit and positivity to the event. The facts are the facts but I actually don’t think the event would have come back on without the overall attitude and belief I felt at the site. From the totems to the dancing and the activities – the spirit just permeated the entire campgrounds and event area.
Now that East’s inaugural year is said and done, fans want to know: What does the future hold for Dirtybird Campout East Coast?
We are coming back because we do not accept defeat. We need some time to take a step back and look at our options though. Stay tuned. Like I said Friday night to everyone: You can take our speakers and you can take our permit and you can even put us in jail but you can never take our spirit.