Fantasy camps have been a thing for decades now, with grown men and women plunking down thousands of dollars for the opportunity to play basketball with Michael Jordan or skate with Wayne Gretzky or hit the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in an Indy-style car with Mario Andretti or play tennis with Chris Evert.
There are even Curling Fantasy Camps. I don’t think my heart could take it.
One of the most popular and enduring entries in the genre is the Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, where amateur musicians leave day jobs such as accountant and dentist and head of human resources for a jam-packed jam session vacation that includes playing with the likes of Roger Daltrey of the Who, Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Slash from Guns N Roses and Mr. Meat Loaf himself.
In the documentary “Rock Camp: The Movie,” which is essentially an extended infomercial but works as a breezy, slightly goofy, occasional touching and infectiously upbeat slice of entertainment, we spend time with the shamelessly gimmicky promoter who invented Rock Camp, the aging rock gods and goddesses such as Alice Cooper, Rob Halford and Nancy Wilson who participate in the camp, and a number of likable “civilians,” many of whom attend the camps nearly every year. (Spoiler alert: The various packages run in the mid-five figures. You can’t go Rock Camping if you don’t have a considerable amount of disposable cash.)
Directors Renee Barron and Douglas Blush clearly know there’s something cheesy and corny about these camps, but so does David Fishof, an Energizer Bunny of a promoter who started out as a sports agent for some big-name athletes and segued into rock ’n’ roll as the man behind Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band and other oldies touring acts — which led to the brainstorm that created the Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp some two decades ago.
We’re introduced to a number of fantasy campers in their everyday lives, including Tammy Fisher, a controller for a realty trust and married mom who is also a badass drummer; Bill Meinhardt and his son Blake, who is autistic and has a reserved personality but becomes joyously engaged as he shreds it on the guitar, and Scott “Pistol” Crockett, an ISSM network specialist who came close to making it to the big time as a drummer but fell just short. Not surprisingly, they all speak of how their lives have been enriched by the experience of playing with and learning from chart-topping rock ’n’ rollers. (This isn’t the kind of movie where the filmmakers sought out folks who found the camp overpriced and underwhelming. Who knows, maybe they don’t exist.)
As for the grizzled veteran rockers who have played to sold-out arenas and are now jamming in cramped studio spaces with amateurs with OK-to-solid musicianship skills: If they’re rolling their eyes about this whole thing, it’s off-camera. They seem to genuinely enjoy spending time with the campers and in one or two cases are seriously impressed by the talent level. Jam on, campers.