Frequenty Asked Questions

Camp sign-in begins Monday, July 22th at 3:30pm and
ends with a farewell breakfast on Friday, July 26th.

Registration Fee: (Includes all classes, full meal plan and tent camping)

Adult (18+): $595
Youth (8-17): $375

Your registration fee includes a nonrefundable $75. deposit.

(Students ages 17 and under must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. RiverTunes will consider admitting students under the age of eight – on a case by case basis. Please contact us.)

Meals: Includes the Monday Welcome Dinner, 3 meals per day Tue. Wed. Thur. and a Friday Farewell Breakfast. Our caterer is The Blue Sun Cafe. Last year’s menu received rave reviews. Meal time is a fun and important social time to interact with fellow students and teachers. Enjoyment of the Open Mic also supports us in presenting and sharing what we’ve learned. Put simply, mealtime at RiverTunes is a groovy thing. Click on “Let’s Eat” to see a sample menu for Camp.

Your registration fee includes a nonrefundable $75 deposit. You may receive a full refund (minus the $75 deposit) until midnight, pacific standard time, June 20th. After June 21st, there will be no refunds, as costs and fees to us are past deadline for adjustments by that time. Thanks for your understanding.

January. Watch the “RTG” (RiverTunes Gauge) on our home page to monitor how much space is left at any given time until full. The camp in the past has filled by late March/early April. Please know that RiverTunes reserves the right to refuse any student application.

Yes. And it will be on a first come/first served basis.


Tent Camping – (No extra fee) Pitch your tent and set up camp under the stars or beneath the canopy of trees. Tucked away in the hills above San Luis Obispo is Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School, a natural preserve here, on 250 protected acres. There are showers and bathrooms conveniently located across from the cabins and tenting area. Everything is close to everything else – all on level ground. Our wondrous village of cabins and tents of all shapes and colors will make for a festive setting.

Shared Cabins – Want to sleep in the comfort of a real bed? Rancho El Chorro has a nice selection of bunkhouse style cabins. For an additional $225, you may reserve a space to share with others. Cabins are limited so first come first serve. If you forgot to add a cabin request at the time of registration, or simply decide you want a bed to sleep in after you’ve registered, email us at ASAP. If you opt for a cabin, you will share your cabin with roommates. This is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow students and make new friends. We offer 2 cabin lodging choices; Male or Female. We will have more information and clarifications about cabin lodging just before camp registration opens.

Would you prefer a private cabin? There is a limited number of cabins available for rent for $700. Contact us at if you have questions about renting a private space for you, family and/or friends.

Yurts – Rancho El Chorro also has a few brand new yurts available. For an additional $900, you may reserve a space to share with others. These sleep up to a dozen people easily. There are no restrooms in these but the restroom facilities are close.

Vehicle Camping: Car, Truck, Van, RV, Trailer, etc. – All camping is dry camping – no hookups of any type.

If your vehicle is 17 feet and under there is an additional fee of $50. We have limited space. When we have filled our limit, we will close the option on the registration form. Your vehicle must fit in the allotted car space provided. 17 feet or less. Please understand we can not have any vehicle larger than 17 feet in our car camping areas.

If your vehicle is 18 to 25 feet there is an additional fee of $150.  We have very limited space for these vehicles.

If your vehicle is over 25 feet there is an additional fee of $175.  

You may reserve your spot at El Chorro Regional Park. They have full hook-ups and located next to Rancho El Chorro.

Yes, but realize that whether you come for all or just a part of the 3 & 1/2 day RiverTunes experience, the cost is the same. Unfortunately, we are unable to address a financial sliding scale based on limited participation. If you cannot make all of the Camp, attend as much as you can, as there is a great deal to experience, absorb and take away – even in a single day! Attending the short yet packed RiverTunes schedule in its entirety allows you the full benefit of the classes and camp experience.

Yes! Our mission is to help everyone who attends RiverTunes to either begin playing music or continue on their musical path. Family members eight years of age or older are requested to attend as students and, remember, anyone can be a student at RiverTunes! If you have children under the age of eight, write us… we understand. We pride ourselves on being a small intimate camp experience and, therefore, need to offer all available space to registered participants – only. For example, we no longer have room for guests to come to the Camp’s evening activities in the dining/performance hall – due to limited space. Individuals are welcome to take as many – or as few – classes as they would like and/or participate in as many social activities as they would like. Once a registered participant, the choices are yours to make.

Yes. For example, perhaps a youth “friend of your family” may want to come as a student with you or your family. Just acknowledge on the registration form that you will be their legal guardian while at Camp. The child will also need to camp with you.

Some RiverTuners have come to us wanting to invite spouses, family members or friends for drop in visits to enjoy things such as evening activities and jamming. We’re very sorry, but we are unable to accommodate guests.

Please understand that, to date, RiverTunes enjoys a wonderful, yet full capacity, student body. Due to the limited space, liability and legal issues, we require all folks who attend, at any time during our 4 & 1/2 days together, to be registered paid students (whether they choose to take classes or not).

We have neither the space, nor the liability coverage, to address non-students on our watch. Thanks for your understanding.

Sorry, no. We all love our animals and wish we could accommodate them at camp but, alas, we just can’t do it (liability concerns, etc.). So please leave your talented companion animals at home while you attend RiverTunes. Thank You for understanding!

Absolutely! There are classes designed to suit players ranging from the absolute beginner, to the beginner already working on basic chords, and from individuals who have had a really difficult time understanding and/or playing music, to the performing musician looking to hone their skills. Our camp fosters a highly supportive environment for all.

Folks will ask if this camp for children or adults and our answer is that this camp is for musicians. Most of our students are adults, so the classes are geared to an adult attention span. We welcome students starting at age eight as long as they’re into the music, can stay focused and not create a distraction during class time. “Multi-Generational” is our demographic. Anyone from “eight to eighty-eight” can appropriately find a place at our musical table. Our targeted quota is 100 adults, 12 teens and 12 tweens (8-12). If you are bringing Family DO NOT wait to enroll!

Some classes are ability-based and a few are not. We do not sequester youth off into kid activities although we are developing youth space and time for them to hang, which is important. We believe folks of all ages can learn better together so we focus on ability based, (rather than age specific), settings. This occasionally has it’s challenges but we value in this multi-generational setting forging deeper bonds between the generations. We believe this is a strength of our Camp.

These definitions are to help provide a common ground understanding between the faculty and you, in your self assessment of technical ability, and in guiding you in your class choices and placement. A good fit between you, a class and it’s teacher – is one where you’re neither bored, nor overwhelmed, but challenged with basic understanding felt at the end of the day. Remember, the value of recording all, or highlights, of your classes is huge and it’s content can remind you what you learned and maybe provide “ah-ha” moments later in review, after a particular concept was perhaps not as clear during camp.

Total beginner ~ (no experience necessary), or beginner wanting to review or just start over. This is those who seek introduction instruction such as 3 – 5 basic chords, a few scales and basic technique of how to hold the instrument and play entry level tunes and/or songs. (Level 1)

Advanced beginner ~ You now know the basics of how to play your instrument (and tune it!), you know a handful (5 – 8) of major and minor chords and can play some songs or tunes, moving from one chord to another without pausing, and, if not up to tempo, at least not painfully slow. (Level 2)

Intermediate ~ You providing steady rhythm and are competent with a variety of basic chords (for example: A, Am, B, Bm, C, C7, D, Dm, E, Em, G, Gm, G7 and F). You now understand basic chord progressions (such as I, IV, V chords), can sing and strum at the same time, and learns chords to simple tunes fairly quickly. You are comfortable with your instrument, and have some measurable experience playing with other people. (Level 3)

Advanced intermediate ~ You should have at least two years of real playing experience, including some experience playing with others in jam sessions or in bands and able to focus on details such as style, arrangement, ornamentation and improvisation. (Level 4)

If you’re uncertain which level is right for you, consider whether you’d rather take it slow and easy, or be more challenged, and sign up accordingly. We allow for some adjustments with moving to different core classes (on the first day only, please).

NOTE: If you are bringing a child 8 -17 yrs. of age to RiverTunes, please know that we request you talk with your child about the importance of good behavior, good manners, and the fun of “RiverTunes team spirit” to practice personal responsibility, helping others and enthusiasm to do one’s best. Like the best of any school experience, RiverTunes is a fun place to learn, make friends and grow. Your child will have a blast and he/she will also be a student and be expected (like us adults expect of each other) to be attentive and participate appropriately in classes they attend, respect the grounds of the Resort and be respectful to all RiverTuners. RiverTunes reserves the right to refuse any student application. Thank you.

Yes. We highly recommend it! Recording devices are plentiful and/or inexpensive. If you have a “smart phone”, there’s an excellent recording device built into it – allowing you to later upload all your recorded classes and jams to your laptop. In addition to instructor handouts, almost all of the music is taught by ear, so recording those tunes and songs you’re learning with be valuable for review later – you just can’t remember it all. Plus there are things teachers and students discuss in class that will have value for you to visit again and again long after Camp.

Some teachers will allow video of particular things but – please – ask before videoing anything during class time. Video is for personal use only – no internet posting without permission. Thank you.

Yes. We have a flexible format. Our morning core classes are progressive, each day building upon the previous day. We offer an early morning core class and a late morning core class so you can work with the same instrument or different ones in each class. Our afternoon workshops are often one time sessions and give you a chance to explore yet other instruments and a wide range of topics as well. We want you to have choices… and options.

The class preference survey in your registration form is designed to help us tailor the classes to fit the needs of the students. Please take the time to think about what you want to focus on at camp and fill the form out accordingly. Don’t feel you have to stay in the class you selected when you get to camp if it doesn’t fill your needs. We want you to get the most out of your camp experience. Part of the fun of camp is trying new things so be prepared to explore.

We are unable to extend a discount to non-campers because the expense we incur for use of the site is independent of the number of participants camping.

How about a 10 minute drive to Morro Bay and the ocean? San Luis Opispo is a 10 min. drive east. A 30 min. drive north takes you to the Paso Robles Wine Country (over 300 wineries). 20 min. south is Avila Beach and Pismo Beach. There are lots of incredible hiking trails in the area. Montaña De Oro State Park is 20 minutes away, while 45 min. north on the coast, you will find the amazing elephant seal colony, fabulous Hearst Castle (home of the rich and famous) and, of course, the charming little town of Cambria.
  • Classes – a notebook and pen, a portable music stand, battery-powered recording device (& extra batteries) and a shoulder bag or backpack (for carrying schedules, handouts, recorders, water, etc,… to/from classes). If you have a large or heavy instrument, you may want to consider bringing a wheeled carrier for making travel to classes easier. Lightweight, easy-carry gig bags (instead of heavier hardshell cases) are good for the same reason. NOTE: The Music Caravan will be back again this year selling strings, capos, tuners, picks, etc,… for your instruments. A camp stool for jamming is nice.
  • Clothing – prepare for warm days and cooler nights. Bring hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, light outerwear for the evening and a swim suit remeber the beach is only 10 mins away. Comfy close toed shoes and/or sandals. Towels and toiletries, bug spray, ear plugs and a small flashlight.
  • Camping Supplies – If you are tent camping, don’t forget your tent, tarp, sleeping bag, pillows, pop up for shade, etc). You will be given a space to camp, and access to water and bathrooms. Bring a water bottle with your name on it! There will be fresh drinking water at dispensers around the camp and, of course, all your meals are provided. Hydration is important. There are a few picnic tables at the sites so a small folding table and/or chair(s) would be a good idea and a small/medium cooler for any cold drinks or perishable snacks.
  • Decorations – DON’T FORGET TO BRING BLING to DRESS UP YOUR CAMP. Solar powered holiday lights can be nice to guide you to your campsite in the evening. Fun is at the forefront of this little Camp of ours.

Our evening concerts will be held at the outdoor amphitheater.

We are a small community-based, volunteer assisted Camp. We have a small but vital CampQuarters Administrative Staff and here is where you come in; we need a small On-Site Staff of volunteers to assist with set up/tear down and some daily tasks during the 4 & 1/2 day run. We rely on our RiverTunes Camp Family, to help us build our community by word of mouth, on-line social networking and informal distribution of Camp literature.

Like the “pro bono” work Joe does with other community education projects he’s involved in each year, we seek those who wish to give back to a worthwhile project such as RiverTunes by offering volunteer time and assistance to our cause – without a request for trade out or price reduction of their student enrollment. Other than a few small annual fundraisers and an instrument raffle, all our revenue comes from the small annual total of student registrations we receive. Our operating budget is high in relation to the revenue potential given our limited space. We salute the “trade out” advantage that other larger Camps and Festivals can offer, but we request those that wish to volunteer with small amounts of time and skills – do so understanding our reliance upon tuition fees to pay our costs.

That said, we do pride ourselves on a Scholarship fund for deserving individuals who may not be able to afford Camp and/or have demonstrated a strong desire to learn and play music.

If you would you like to be part of our RT Volunteer Family, please write us if you are interested in the following;

  1. Being part of our groovy CampQuarters Administrative Staff
  2. Would like to host or assist hosting a RiverTunes House Concert Fundraiser to help with providing money for Scholarships.
  3. If you’re coming to Camp this summer, being part of our On-Site Team to help with a few chores.
  4. Our Set Up and Tear Down Crews are vital to our Camp. The more helpers we have – the smoother things run. A perk of a set up crew volunteer is that you get to come in and get your camp site ahead of the other Students as a small thank you.

Thanks so much for reading this, your cooperation and your support.