Rock Camp: The Movie is a new film documenting a program that allows well-healed fans to “live the dream” and play in a band with rock stars for a long weekend. No doubt, hanging out for a few days with rock icons is a great experience if you can afford it, and it’s certainly memorable for those who attend. This documentary however… not so memorable.
Sports and entertainment agent David Fishof started Rock Camp in the 1990’s, and it received national media coverage. Rock Camp was a hit, with Fishof using his connections in the entertainment world to bring aging rock stars to Camp as counselors. Fishof, the Jewish son of a Cantor who spent summers in the Catskills, explores his own background in the film, and although compelling, it’s not really clear how it all fits together.
The “campers,” from enthused teens to rock and roll boomers, come from various walks of life. Although there are a few interesting storylines – a father and his autistic son who attend, for example – most of the stories don’t really inspire. We get it, camp was a dream for them, but no different than a trip to Vegas or Disneyworld for the rest of us. (I’d certainly enjoy attending Rock Camp, but no one is going to make a movie about my week in Disneyworld.)
Fundamentally, the film suffers from a lack of focus and too much hero worship. Sure, its cool to hang with your favorite rock star in a casual environment for a few days, but it’s way too predictable as larger than life figures like Roger Daltry and Nancy Wilson compare the experience to their innocent days when they were “just starting out.”
At times, Rock and Roll Camp feels like an infomercial. It profiles the program, and even got me to look it up online. The price tag is steep – $6,499 for starters, with add-on packages that come close to five figures. (It’s not inexpensive to hire those talented counselors.) No information about scholarships is provided.
Like the camp, the film feels cheesy, campy and in rare moments, charming. Some of the artists seem to really enjoy the experience, for others, their praise seems forced. If the film was intended to express the unifying spirit of rock and roll, it doesn’t quite succeed. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that the campers had an experience of a lifetime, for most of us though, the experience of this movie will not be anything special.