Sunday, July 15, 2012

CAMP JAKE :: The camp groove

Gregory, Marilene, Jonas, Taylor and Genie

There is one activity that bonds every camper and counselor at Camp Jake, regardless of age, gender, nationality or ability; it transcends the language and socio-economic barriers that separate us. 

That, our dear friends, you may have guessed is MUSIC. 

The following was written in the midst of an impromptu jam session on the first day of Camp Jake / July 2012. The majority of campers and counselors had never met before that day. What happened following our first meal together was simply magical.


We wish you all could hear what we are hearing right now. Forty seven campers arrived today and we have been going non-stop ever since. After sharing our first dinner together as a group of 61, Casey brought out his guitar, Andrew magically produced the percussion instruments, and it has been a non-stop jam session in the middle of the dining hall ever since. 

It is amazing how complete strangers can connect so quickly and intimately through the common language of music. The sounds we are hearing are mesmerizing, pulsing rhythms that engage each of us to our core. We can't help but move to the driving beat of the cajon, a box-style drum of Latin descent, emotionally played by Andrew. Layers of sound are added with Casey's energetic guitar strumming and Caroline's vocals. 

Andy playing the cajon
Casey and Andrew began with a basic chord progression and beat to which the kids started adding their own words and melody, singing chanting and clapping along in the pitch dark. Not only did it sound amazing, but it looked phenomenal with the flashes of lightening from the impending storm streaking across the sky behind them.

The deaf and blind have joined in with percussion, moving to the rhythms defined by the counselors. Triangles, tambourines, shakers and claves add depth to the sound, making it even more infectious. Even the most shy campers have picked up an instrument to become a part of this living, breathing sound. Not a soul is silent! 

Mackenson and Frenel

Other guests at Kaliko have joined in, singing, dancing and clapping, moving to the funky groove the campers and counselors have created. Even the staff has gathered to watch and swallow the sounds. Some of the counselors are dancing too. A new drummer takes Andy's place on the cajon. It is a never-ending song.

This music is ALIVE, defining the connection we feel to one another - that silken red thread of destiny.


When the song stopped, we retired to the Salle Koray to continue our exploration of music. Caroline led the group in American praise and South African freedom songs, following which campers shared some of their favorite songs with us and we engaged in our first of many cultural exchanges for the week. Everyone took a turn chanting someone else's name; that person would then dance into the middle of the circle before selecting someone new. We couldn't have asked for a better ice breaker!

At the end of the evening, when everyone's vocal chords were spent and hands tired from drumming, we retired to our rooms. With a broad smile on his face, Casey shared that as he led his blind campers to their room, they hummed the tunes all the way. 

What a grand way to start the week.

The whole gang finds their groove

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