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Updated Jun 30, 2012 - 6:55 pm

Call it rock and roll, call it jamming out, but do not call it band camp!

Tempe, AZ - Forget the sleeping bags, the bug spray, or the tent tethering. At the New School for the Academy of Arts, intrepid campers pick up sticks, strum a bass guitar, or plug in the piano. Some of them do it for the first time in their lives.

Instead of wading out into rapid waters, 15 campers from ages seven to ten get one week to find their nerve and perform in front of a live audience. It happens every year, in late June.

"This is Camp Jam! Where there are no canoes, just lots of rock," explained Kidz Camp director T.J. Friga, "Really loud rock!" Kidz Camp is the younger musicians at Camp Jam. Friga has five days to reach their inner rocker. "I am in charge of helping the kids find band mates, pick out a song, a band name, and learn how to play their instruments."

On day one, it looks like an impossible task as children - barely bigger than an upright bass guitar - file in to the NSAA auditorium.

On stage is Camp Jam's local Director, Carole Pellatt, a longtime music teacher and valley guitarist. Dressed all in black, she is cool and collected despite the five day deadline.

She's done this three years in a row and knows what's at stake.

"When I have students who go through this camp," Pellatt has noticed, "for the rest of the year they understand the importance of practicing. It's no longer something that they are nagged to do by grownups. It's something that they want to do."

By day five, four bands are fully formed in the Kidz Camp. Eight year old Orin Thomas is paying serious homage to Black Keys' drummer, Patrick Carney, as he strikes the familiar opening beat of "Gold on the Ceiling."

He is confident after one week together with his band mates. Truth be told, he is relatively seasoned having picked up the drums since October. When asked why he chose percussions, "It makes a loud noise... and it looks cool!"

Pellatt is not surprised, "Giving someone a concert that is treated like a professional rock concert where you have pro lights, pro sound, a DVD, and they are truly treated like performers, they rise to that responsibility."

Another group steps onto the stage prepared to play vintage Beatles' tune "Twist and Shout." Barely tall enough to reach the mic stands, they appear unfazed as they announce, "We are the Unknown."

Only hours earlier Pellatt hears what they are really thinking, " They feel like they don't have it right up until they go up on stage."

As expected, a week's worth of collaborating and practicing pays off, "The bands pull it together and it's so good for their spirits and their brains! It's almost like they levitate off that stage when they're done."

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About the Author


Holliday Moore is a Phoenix native with more than 25 years experience in the local and national broadcast and media industry. A graduate of ASU's journalism program, with a second major in Marketing & Management, she considers herself one of the lucky few to be doing exactly what she loves, writing and producing news.

In 2012, she won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for a light feature radio story on snakes. For the record, snakes do not say much! She is also honored to be one of two nominees this year for a Mark Twain Award involving her series on Arizona drowning cases.

Among her career accomplishments, Moore has taken home a television Emmy for Cultural Issues Reporting on the Navajo/Hopi Partition Land Act. She has also won numerous Emmy nominations for hard, soft and even sports reporting. However, Moore considers her highest achievement was on the day she received the prestigious Walter Cronkite Political Excellence Award for developing the Scripps Television stations' Democracy 2000 & 2002 program. Bob Morford, ABC 15's News Director at the time, asked Moore to head the project with one wish, "Try not to lose ratings," he said. "We not only did not lose ratings," says Moore, "We actually improved ratings between the coveted 5:00-6:30pm news block."

"She created, designed and executed the award winning program," recalls Morford, "Her efforts brought a great deal of notice and credit to our station."

Moore loves a challenge and is an adrenaline junky by nature. She ran 400 hurdles in college and more recently half marathons to raise thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She works part time for KTAR Radio while volunteering for her young son's elementary school and running a freelance media services business.

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