Steamboat program plants seeds for music connection across Yampa Valley

Amber Delay
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Erick Ocampo is a musician and community advocate who is looking for more opportunities in the Yampa Valley to connect people through music.
Amber Delay/Steamboat Pilot & Today

For Erick Ocampo, the best way to uplift others and connect with the community is through music, and he is hoping to extend the Music Connection program across the Yampa Valley. 

“I want to help people and connect people with music,” Ocampo said. 

Over the past several years, Ocampo has been working with the community through a music and outreach program. The program has had different configurations in the past, depending on the funding and partners who have been involved. 

After working in the community with music for some time, Ocampo saw the need and wanted to continue. The current iteration of the program is called Music Connection, and it’s held weekly at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and 5 p.m. on Sundays at Steamboat Christian Center in Steamboat Springs. 

Right now the Steamboat program serves about 30 people and receives funding through a HRSA opioid response grant, led by Memorial Regional Health and the Rural Alliance Addressing Substance Use Disorder-Colorado (RAS-Col) workgroup.

Ocampo is looking for musicians and volunteers who may want to expand the Music Connection program to Craig, as well as possible space where weekly gatherings could be held.  

Music Connection provides a substance-free, pro-social environment for youth, adults, and families to come together and enjoy movement and music together. The group is volunteer-led and open to anyone in the community. 

Ocampo said the group starts out by doing some physical activity. One of the volunteers, a former basketball trainer in Mexico, leads a physical activity to get everyone loosened up and more comfortable with each other. Then the group does an informal check-in so everyone gets a chance to share with the group what is going on in their life. 

“Then everyone plays music together,” Ocampo said. “Music is the hook.”

People bring their own instruments to the group — piano, bass guitar, drums, and voices — and all different skill levels are welcome. Ocampo said it’s a place where anyone can pick up an instrument and learn. 

“We do a jam session and you can play anything,” Ocampo said. “We play any kind of music and all kinds of songs. We dance and we do an open mic session.” 

Music Connection draws people from a variety of different backgrounds. Ocampo said he sees a lot of diversity with people from Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil and Venezuela. The people who attend come from Steamboat, Hayden, Milner and South Routt — all over Routt County.

“Something we all have in common is struggling with mental health,” Ocampo said.

Ocampo is hoping that the community in Craig will embrace a similar program that could provide benefits to people of all ages. 

“I don’t want to come in and say I know your issues and want to solve them,” Ocampo said. “I want to lift people up and empower them.” 

Ocampo said that when you pick up an instrument, your brain starts moving and you can forget about your circumstances. 

“We aren’t just doing music; we are moving and dancing,” Ocampo said. 

Once people get more familiar with the group, Ocampo said that often people come to him one on one to ask for help with other things they have going on in their lives. At that point, Ocampo often helps connect them with other services in the community, including mental health support or medical services. 

In Ocampos’ eyes, one of the best parts of the group is that individuals can find support and advocacy when they need it. 

“It’s about them, listening to them and referring them to services in the community,” Ocampo said.

If anyone is interested in seeing how the program works or in getting involved, everyone is welcome to attend the sessions in Steamboat on Saturday and Sunday.

Anyone interested in helping start a program in Craig can also reach out to Erick directly at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.