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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Camping Out w/ Lisa Loeb
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It may be hard to imagine, but there was a time when bespectacled beauty Lisa Loeb wasn’t performing singer/songwriter music. In fact, the first song she ever learned how to play was the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway to Heaven.” Loeb was fourteen and at summer camp. “My friend Aima Doll (McCutchin) had learned how to play guitar,” she remembers, “she brought her guitar with her and showed me how to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ only. We would change the lyrics of the song to make them about camp.”

Summer camp was a huge part of Loeb’s childhood. “I went to sleep away camp for six years. I went to day camp for years and years before that. Even after I went to sleep away camp I did different summer programs, acting programs, music programs and things like that.” With camp being such an influential force in Loeb’s life she decided to create Camp Lisa, an album full of classic camp songs. The idea quickly grew into something much bigger.

“I started thinking it would be fun to share the summer camp world with different people and different kids,” she explains. “We started thinking more in terms of doing TV programming and media and then I thought it would be really cool to actually send kids to summer camp that don’t have the opportunity to go.” After a little bit of research Loeb found an organization called SCOPE that was set up for exactly that purpose and she immediately contacted them. “I wanted to set up a foundation to help utilize this organization and send kids to summer camp.” From that point it didn’t take long for The Camp Lisa Foundation to be born.

Loeb’s want to send kids to summer camp involves a lot more than just exposing them to campfire songs, summer loves and s’mores, although all of those things can be quite enjoyable, it’s about helping kids grow up away from home. “Summer camp gives kids a lot of responsibility,” she explains. “They have some great role models there and it gives kids the opportunity to try things they’ve never tried before. I think that you end up learning how to be a better person because you’re relating to people and you have a responsibility to people. You learn a lot about pushing yourself and being aware of everybody else’s personal space. You develop friendships and memories.” Loeb also knows that kids who go to camp retain more of the information they learned during the school year.

Although it may be surprising to hear that capture the flag and organized games of soccer can have such a deep impact on kids, Loeb points out, “When it comes to some of the inner city kids it wasn’t that they were learning less during the school year, it was that they didn’t have the opportunity to be a part of different activities during the summer, so they were actually losing a lot of what they learned.” How much a student can lose during a summer is staggering. According to Loeb they can actually lose up to three months of what they learned during the school year during summer and that adds up over many, many years.

Even with her taking all the time and energy to launch The Camp Lisa Foundation Loeb didn’t put her CD idea on the back burner. On the contrary, it became a guiding force for fund raising as she decided to set aside a portion of her sales from the CD, which includes a cameo by legendary comedian Steve Martin playing a banjo, to the foundation. Loeb also enlisted a handful of her musician friends for the album, including Kay Hanley, Dave Gibbs, Nina Gordon (formerly of Veruca Salt), Maia Sharp, Lee Sklar and Jill Sobule.

In its first few weeks of release Camp Lisa was sold solely at Barnes and Noble stores. Loeb recently toured those stores and played for the kids as she now looks toward a future of affording the opportunity for even more young people to sing those classic songs with the new friends they’ll make around the campfires and in the cabins she’ll be sending them to year after year.

Story originally ran on beyondrace.com

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