Camplified comes to World Sports Camp at Williston

Last modified: Wednesday, July 17, 2013

EASTHAMPTON — Campers attending the World Sports Camp at Williston Northampton School were surprised on Tuesday when they found themselves rubbing elbows with some rising stars of the music industry.

Some 150 campers, all clad in shorts and camp T-shirts, were quick to notice the performers when they showed up for dinner.

“It was fun to see the kids’ jaws drop when they saw the musicians walk into the dining hall for dinner,” said Director of Health and Wellness Kerry-Beth Garvey. “I think a lot of them were a bit star struck.”

The musicians were on a “Camplified” tour, which for the past 10 years has been bringing both new and established young performers to summer camps throughout the country.

Songwriter and tour producer Anthony Natoli said the tours have served as a launch pad for several performers, one of whom is 16-year-old pop star Cody Simpson.

“This is an opportunity for kids to get to see a concert while many are at the age where they can’t actually go out to a show,” Natoli said. “It is also great for the artists because they get to understand tour life while getting great exposure to a young fan base.”

Headlining this leg of the tour is Cover Drive, a young band of four musicians from Barbados. The band has gained widespread popularity in Europe, with four of their songs making it to the top 10 on the music charts in the United Kingdom.

“This band is amazing. They have really blown up in Europe and this is their first tour in the U.S.,” Natoli said.

Cover Drive has worked with Grammy Award-winner Kelly Clarkson on her 2012 “Stronger” tour in the U.K. and Ireland, and has opened for Rihanna. The group is also featured on the Far East Movement’s song “Turn Up the Love,” which was part of Barack Obama’s inaugural playlist.

“The band has been together for three years, but we have been friends since we were kids,” said lead singer Amanda Reifer, 20.

“We are very excited to be here. Camplified is very different than anything we have done before,” Reifer said. “It’s really nice to have such a small and intimate gig and the kids are great.”

The other acts on the tour are Chuck Threezy, a “hip pop” performer, and the rock band Echo 4.

Normally filled with the sounds of squeaking sneakers and the swoosh of basketball nets, the Williston gymnasium became a mini concert venue complete with stage lighting, musical equipment and a sound board.

As the bands performed, campers danced, cheered and sang along. Many grabbed for promotional backpacks and CDs that were intermittently tossed into the crowd.

Coach Lazarus Manjoro of Zimbabwe is a well know tennis player in Africa. On Tuesday evening he danced along with campers.

“This band is very good, and the whole concert has been lovely,” Manjoro said.

After the concert, campers were invited to a meet-and-greet with the musicians where they could also receive autographed posters of the tour.

“I thought it was very good,” said Greg Roseman, 16, of Florida. “I like them all, but I think that last band (Cover Drive) was my favorite.”

World Sports Camp

The World Sports Camp has been based at Williston for the past 14 years.

Previously located in Bristol, R.I., the camp was founded 30 years ago by Terry Shand, who, together with his son Addam, serves as co-director.

The camp attracts coaches and campers from around the world.

“Forty-five percent of our campers are international kids,” Shand said. “But we all speak the same language, which is sports, laughter and music.”

The coaches at the camp are professional and club athletes, hand pick by the Shands.

“We never use an agency to find our people. We go wherever they are in the world, we watch them play their sport, and interview each one personally,” Shand said.

Campers have a range of athletic abilities and experience. International campers who may experience a language barrier are paired with coaches who are fluent in the camper’s native language.

Since the camp has been in operation, campers and coaches have come from of 90 countries around the world.

The camp offers basketball, soccer, tennis and golf as well as recreational swimming. English as a Second Language classes are also provided for campers who wish to become more proficient in conversational English.

Both co-directors make it their duty to know all of the campers by their first name and expect coaches to do the same.

“Kids never remember every game they played at camp. What they do remember is when they didn’t get to play, or a coach knew everyone else’s name but theirs,” Shand said. “We don’t have A-teams and B-teams, we have an A-team and another A-team.”

Shand said he learned about Camplified while searching for entertainment for the campers.

“We saw their website, called some of the camps that had hired them, and they got all glowing reviews,” he said. “From the looks of it, everyone is having a good time tonight.”

Camper Marie Murphy, 12, of Hadley, concurred.

“This is my fourth year here and the concert was so much fun!” Murphy said. “I like all the bands. I thought they were great.”


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