My Day on Warped: The Volunteer Edition

A typical day at the Jersey shore does not usually include analyzing neck tats, the use of power washers, cool matching t-shirts, and early mornings. But on this particular day my friends and I were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only volunteer at the shore following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but to see, meet, and work alongside some of our favorite bands, artists, and musicians for the Vans Warped Tour volunteer day. This year Warped Tour partnered with Waves for Water to help in the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

The destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy hit very close to home for us New Jerseyans and driving through towns like Mantoloking on our way to the site was a reality check. We witnessed uninhabitable houses that were just washed away or under construction, piles of debris in empty lots where buildings once stood and houses you could see directly through to the bay. Before we even arrived at Lavallette Bay Park, the ghost town feel was a solemn reminder for who we were really helping.

Pulling in to the parking area, we could see tour busses filling up a majority of the lot. My friends and I were impressed with the amount of bands that showed up to help out.

After all the morning speeches, and even a visit from the mayor of Lavallette, everyone dispersed and chose where they wanted to help: between restoring benches, weeding the area and planting dune-grass – there was plenty for everyone to do.

One of my favorite moments of the day was when I had the chance to talk to Craig Owens from Chiodos. I’ve been a fan of Chiodos, and even had the opportunity to see them live in 2008 at The Bamboozle Festival. Craig was possibly one of the nicest people I had the privilege of talking to all day and he seemed really into helping the cause.

“There’s nothing that feels as good as giving back”
— Craig Owens

I was very shocked at the overall effort all of the bands put in to making the park a better place. Knowing that most of these bands weren’t from the area, I figured they would half ass the work because they probably didn’t have an emotional attachment. But with the helping hands of a few hundred people, the project that was assumed to take up to four hours, was completed in less than two.

And I must say, Ollie Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon honestly impressed me the most. As soon as he got a hold of that power washer, he didn’t stop. I wanted to talk to try and talk to him at some point, but I didn’t want to interrupt once he was on a roll. Not only did he seem to be enjoying himself, he busted his ass the whole time.

Another enjoyable moment of the day was getting to talk with William Beckett (again) formerly of The Academy Is… Back at the end of last October, days after the attack of Mother Nature, the same friends and I were fortunate enough to see William Beckett play at this little dive bar near our home to aid in the Hurricane Sandy relief fund. William and The Classic Crime played what was basically a free show, having the choice-of-donation-amount cover to be directly donated to where funds were needed. They were in the area on tour, and since their show got cancelled they agreed to play a benefit show. We talked to him at that performance, and it was great to see that he is still investing his time into the cause after all those months.

“New Jersey has always been like a second home to me”
— William Becket

Before we left, I got a chance to chat with the man of the hour, Kevin Lyman, who founded the Vans Warped Tour 18 years ago and was able to help put all of this together. Warped Tour has been organizing a volunteer day every year following Hurricane Katrina. Most bands come out to volunteer on one of their few days off throughout the summer-long tour to help out an area of the country in need. Kevin was even generous enough to announce that every volunteer who came out to help could email him and they’d get a wristband and be on the guest list for whatever upcoming show they were attending on the tour.

We were lucky the tour decided to make a pit stop on their day off and help restore the Jersey shore. It gave the fans in the surrounding area the opportunity to work with their role models and inspirations as real people. Because rock stars get idolized regularly, it’s nice to see they still have modesty and are willing to lend a hand when the time comes.

Overall, I spent a lot of my time getting the input of workers and volunteers, which was great because of how dedicated everyone was, but my one regret was not being able to contribute more because the reward was fantastic. – Nicole

To learn more about Waves for Water, and to see how you can help with their continuing efforts, visit them on Facebook.

Jersey Girl at Emo At Heart