VIRTUAL MAINE FIDDLE CAMP IS THE BEST EVER!!!

Well… we ALL did it!! Virtual Maine Fiddle Camp is over and it was an unqualified success. There were close to 500 registered campers and well over 1000 who “stopped by.” (Many stayed!) I’d like to let you know about the “crew” who put this all together. This was unchartered territory, and starting approximately one month before the virtual camp, we pretty much made it up as we went. Some of the MFC staff had familiarity with Zoom meetings and other interactive online platforms. Others had knowledge of YouTube, and others yet were familiar with website design, etc. None had EVER done anything approaching the scope of Virtual Maine Fiddle Camp 2020, but we wanted to give it a try. Read on if you want to know who made this happen…

First of all, as you probably suspect, the virtual camp came from the vision of our fearless leader Doug Protsik. “Why not run an online ‘virtual camp’ at the time of “REAL” camp?” Many of us were skeptical, but after our first online (Zoom) meeting, the Virtual Maine Fiddle Camp Development Committee decided to give it a try. What the heck… many of us who are normally “out there” gigging for a living had some time on our hands,  and we all already desperately MISSED Fiddle Camp!!!

Here’s the team: Doug Protsik, our fearless leader, then: Jo-Anne Bouthot, Baron Collins-Hill, Noah Fishman, Rick Fitzsimmons, Daniel Hawkins, Glen Loper, Elaine Malkin, Owen Marshall, yours truly, Bill Olson, Neil Pearlman, Alden Robinson, Bethany Waickman, and Pam Weeks. The team had weekly online (Zoom) meetings, sometimes two or three per week and once or twice a day during the final week before Camp. The whole “Virtual Camp” started with modest intentions, but after brainstorming what was possible and realizing the breadth of talent we had available, the plan was hatched to try to duplicate a “REAL” Maine Fiddle Camp weekend as closely as possible. We decided on the first weekend of the normal June camps as a date: the “ORIGINAL Maine Fiddle Camp weekend”. Most of you know the outcome. If not, check the weekend schedule here. As I said before, a lot of this had never really been done before. We were making it up as we went, and EVERYONE on the team shared in much of the work. It was a true TEAM EFFORT!!!!!! Eventually team member responsibilities narrowed down somewhat.. Jo-Anne published the newsletters and kept track of all the registrations, managed the help-lines, and added all around camper/staff support. Baron was on YouTube duty making sure everything was ready to go at the right time and manning the chat for the YT and FB livestreams. He also edited the Saturday Night variety Show. Noah organized the schedule and did the video editing on the Camp announcements and the virtual ensembles (here’s the epic Road to Boston again!) Rick is the MFC webmaster so was VERY BUSY leading up to Camp. During V-MFC he was constantly updating and managing the website. He also helped the instructors with sound checks, posted materials on the nest pages and co-hosted some workshops. In addition to being there to bounce stuff off of, Daniel acted as our recording secretary most of the time. Often we’d be lost in the middle of complicated stuff and someone would say “is anyone writing this down?” Daniel was. Glen led two Jam sessions with Bethany and co-organized and co-hosted the Virtual Variety Show with Owen. Check out the variety show HERE. Elaine and Pam were the “online teacher coordinators”. They co-wrote a document for teaching on Zoom and other online platforms which is now sort of an “industry standard” and being requested by other groups and camps! They also held several meetings with instructors before camp to get them up to speed. Elaine coordinated a team of people who helped both teachers and campers with problems during VMFC. Neil ran all the VMFC live streams from Zoom to Facebook and YouTube, booked and hosted the Maestro Bistro and ran the back end for most of the “Main Tent” Zoom meetings. Alden pretty much did EVERYTHING! He kept our team meetings on track, shared the website duties just before and during camp, recorded several videos, hosted a pre-camp fiddle workshop and basically herded all the MFC “cats”. Bethany booked the jam and specialty workshop staff and co-hosted a jam each night with Glen. In addition to all these responsibilities, Glen, Daniel and Pam all taught workshop “nests” all weekend! Oh yeah, and ME, well, in addition to recording for the virtual ensembles, hosting a jam session, doing a Maestro Bistro slot with Pam and Jim, and assisting behind the scenes on several workshops, you probably know I wrote most of the newsletters leading up to camp. It’s interesting, in this age of lighting fast communication via social media (mainly FaceBook in our case) we found the most effective means of communicating with “you all” was with an old fashioned email newsletter! (And here we are again!)

Let’s see who did I leave out?? Oh yes, saving the best for last, our fearless leader, MFC’s director, Doug Protsik! Virtual Maine Fiddle Camp would NOT HAVE HAPPENED without the vision and leadership of Doug. He assembled the team and, as is the case with all great leaders, knew what we were capable of, even before we did. We joke about every Fiddle Camp being “the best ever” but that’s because our leader works very hard to make it that way and never takes anything for granted. In addition to being a “visionary”, Doug recorded most of the video announcements as well as templates for the Virtual Ensembles, a “silent movie”, and of course, hosted many of the live V-MFC events! (Everyone join me)… Hip hip hooray!!!!

Finally, THANK YOU to all the enthusiastic campers that participated in the premier Virtual Maine Fiddle Camp! We couldn’t have done it without you!!!

If you missed Virtual Maine Fiddle Camp, you can get a feel for all the action by going to the MFC website or just go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82IHcyrPcr4&list=PLyxqCvdhJ8Q2RwQIiXXGG2Lyk0EjadZUW . This is a playlist of most of the archived V-MFC 2020 videos. There are MANY hours of video here and you can “binge” on it, or pick and choose! Also, on the website, https://www.mainefiddlecamp.org/ , if you scroll down to the “Virtual Nests” section, there are lots of fun videos by the instructors and some virtual ensembles as well! (Check out the Loons to start!)

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