Welcome back to our Crew Appreciation series. It takes a community of dedicated, passionate individuals to help create the magic of Shambhala. We are so fortunate to host talented crew members from across the globe as we all come together on the Farm to turn dreams into reality. Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring influential members from various teams on the Farm. Today we feature Gabriel McCay.
“Real World” job: Creative Director/Owner, Blue Lotus Creative – Digital Marketing for Social Impact Entrepreneurs
Shambhala Job: Shambassador Volunteer Supervisor
Shambhala Spirit Animal: Never spun the wheel, but I’d guess a Lion
Favorite Snack on the Farm: Buddha Bowl & Chai
SMF: What does Shambhala mean to you?
GM: Shambhala means community, a tribe, a common people. But most of all it’s a reminder that life can truly exist like this. That we can all get along, we can all work together, and we can all be happy. That small little reminder is a precious gift, because you can take that home with you. Shambhala helped me to be comfortable being myself, helped me learn to let loose; and after getting involved as a Shambhassador, it taught me leadership and self-confidence.
SMF: What keeps you coming back to Shambhala?
GM: The first timers! Their life changing experiences and being able to contribute to them in a positive way! That’s what gets me out of the bed in the morning at 5:30am on the farm! Being a Shambassador, inspiring and empowering the people on the farm is amazing, and I could never get enough. It’s my dream job! Thank you for allowing me to live the dream!
SMF: What’s your Shambhala story?
GM: I found out about Shambhala in 2009, 2 weeks before the festival. Things fell into place and I was on my way. My first time was incredible. I was adopted into a camp that evolved into an amazing group of people who collaborated to throw events inspired by Shambhala (Caturday Crew). Most of the people from that camp are still some of my best friends.
My second year I ended up spending a lot of time with my friend Sparky from Scotland. He was experienced in the festival scene and seemed to dedicate most of his time at the festival to just spreading Joy. He carried around a bag that was filled with fun; toys, tricks, candies. You name it, he had it. We went around amplifying experiences the entire evening, sending lit up balloons out over the crowd with positive messages on them, leaving googly eyes all over the place. This year running around causing adorable mischief and spreading joy forever changed my experience at festivals.
The following year after seeing some close friends really excel being Shambhassadors, I decided that was the volunteer position for me. I worked my ass off to ensure that my volunteer application truly shined and was accepted into the team. I set off with my own bag of fun and set out to give back to the festival! All my shifts were overnight, in the cold field, but we spent the entire time pumping people up right after they came through security and officially welcomed them to the party. It was so much fun! That year I also started a small little tour for my friends while wearing a Thomas the train costume; ‘Captain Thomas’ Shamb Virgin Train Tour was born.
For my fourth Shambhala, I again volunteered, but was placed on the Snack Fairy team. I tried to carry my Shambhassador spirit through with me to this role, but a large part of me just wanted to be a Shambhassador again. On the Thursday of this particular Shambhala after a long day of dancing, my legs were tired and all I wanted to do was find a way to become a Shambhassador again. I read a poster on the fence in the HR yard, The Shamanifesto, and a particular word stood out to me; Empower. I asked myself, how can I empower everyone at the festival to be a Shambhassador?
Then, I was struck by an idea. What if I created missions, placed them in my hat, and found willing people to go on a quest to complete a mission and help spread the Shambhalove? I spent the entire rest of the festival giving out missions. I called myself the Rogue Shambhassador. This role has been one of the most fun to embody at this festival!
Every year since, I’ve been lucky enough to be on the Shambassador team, and I’ve seen so many incredible people step into themselves in this role. It has truly been an honour and a privilege to be able to serve people of Shambhala for all these years.
Join Gabriel on the Shambassador crew as an amBASSador of the festival, spreading joy wherever you go and empowering guests to have the best Shambhala possible. As a Shambassador, you are in the business of being informed and keeping our guests in the loop. You may not have all the answers, but you know who to talk to to find them. You are an advocate for the health and well-being of the farm and our guests. Shambassador-ing requires some general knowledge of the festival, so applicants must have attended 2+ Shambhalas and have been part of our Crew at least once in recent years. You believe in the goodness Shambhala inspires in others and are passionate about spreading that message. Is this you? Join our mission to spread the Shambhalove!