Feel the Beat
Whether you’re a drummer, a dancer, or just excited about joining a group of people who are, Congo Camp is your chance to live out your fantasy. Imagine a community of hundreds of people dedicated to one thing: drumming, and the dancing that accompanies it. Whether you’re an expert Congolese drummer, or a newcomer looking to share in the fun of dancing to the ancient rhythms of Africa, Congo Camp is a great chance to hone your skills in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. And the thrill of playing side by side with others who share your passion only makes the experience that much more exhilarating.
There are two camps each year; a summer camp is held in July in the forested mountain community of Pike, California, midway between Sacramento and Reno, Nevada. Winter camp is held in March at Camp Keanae on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Each camp lasts about 10 days, but those who show up for a day or who want to attend classes on a drop-in basis are also welcome. Work-study opportunities are also available. Classes in singing and dancing as well as drumming are held several times each day, and there are more informal sessions held at special events like the Hawaiian beach party.
Congolese drumming involves much more than the sound from a musical instrument—it’s described as an all-encompassing, empowering communal experience, and the camp reflects that tradition. Food is served three times a day, and children are welcomed to participate in supervised arts and crafts, dance and musical activities. Indoor and outdoor camping accommodations are available. There’s even an African-style marketplace where vendors display handicrafts, clothing, jewelry, and more. And for folks who want to enjoy the atmosphere without attending classes, the camps welcome vacationers who simply want to relax, swim, sunbathe, and soak up the good vibrations.
Congo Camp ( 530/288-3603; www.congolesecamp.com).
When to Go: Mar or July; check website for exact dates.Sacramento (85 miles/137km) or Maui (30 miles/48km).