That one time, at band camp…

March 18, 2015 § 8 Comments

I’m going to cheat a little on this topic, because I’ve never been to band camp, but I have been to many, many camps – I was a Girl Guide in my distant youth, and camping formed a large part of what we did. But there’s one camp that stands out – a jamboree I attended with 499 other Girl Guides, and 2 000 Scouts: a ratio that felt just about right to a teenage girl… Ahem.

Anyway, it was a marvellous camp. We hiked and canoed and washed in zinc baths, and we cooked over fires and slept under the stars. I tried my hand at archery – mostly because the Scouter running the archery base was pretty hot – and finally had to concede when I buried the umpteenth arrow in the grass, that archery was not for me.

And then, one night, they assembled all 2 500 of us in an enormous marquee for an evening of entertainment with the Blarney Brothers. In some ways, it was an odd choice, because – and I’m sure they will forgive me for saying so – they were not exactly the kind of band (or the age group) you’d expect a bunch of teenagers to listen to. But these lovely middle-aged Irish men had the measure of us. In no time at all, we were singing along with them – they were consummate professionals, and they won over a pretty tough crowd.

I don’t remember how or why, but towards the end of the concert, the Blarney Brothers weren’t singing anymore, and my new friends were pushing me to the front and onto the stage. There had been some kind of call for people to come along and sing, and no doubt my friends had heard me humming around the tent – I’m always singing something. I recall wanting to sing a Whitney Houston song – probably Saving all my Love for You, but I suppose modern torch songs weren’t really the stuff the Blarney Brothers were likely to have in their repertoire, so I sang something else: I forget what.

I may have forgotten the song, but I will never forget the feeling. That was my first time singing into a microphone. I’d performed in many stage shows, mostly musicals, but I had never stood on a stage in front of 2 500 people who were waiting to hear me sing. Just me.

And I loved every single second of it. I was a little nervous, sure, but it was a good kind of nervous. I stood up there, belted out that song, and returned to my friends with applause ringing in my ears.

The sad part is that apart from the small foray I made into singing in public again last year, that’s probably the last time I felt confident about my singing abilities. But the really good part is that I remembered that evening. And I remembered the feeling. And I’ve realised that all of the self-critical voices in my head, for all of these years, belonged to other people. That once upon a time, I believed in myself enough to perform for all of those people.

And if I could do it once, I can do it again – right? (And with any luck, again and again.)


* This blog is the fifth of a series of tandem blogs with Dave Luis. We’re having great fun writing about the same topics and publishing at the same time without seeing each other’s posts. You can see what Dave wrote about this topic at


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