Building Community Through Music

This time of year, it’s hard to believe camp ended only a month ago. Although we are working on summer 2023, Wekeela’s 101st year, we reflect and are proud of the fact that our campers enjoyed invaluable camp experiences this past summer. Each day campers learned new skills, practiced teamwork, learned to get along with others, and managed their emotions. They were kind and grateful. They were inspired. They took positive risks, persevered, and had fun just being themselves.

Camp is a place that is always giving. Everyone that spends time at Camp Wekeela makes positive gains in self-reliance, independence, communication, and self-esteem. It’s the greatest gift to give them. One of our goals at Wekeela is our campers’ and their parents’ happiness. We strive to be partners with our parents as we help children grow and thrive. We hope our campers and staff, past and present, agree that building community is what we do best here at Wekeela. Our campers extend these skills and values well beyond our shores. As we move forward towards 2023, we continue to build on a strong sense of fellowship, leadership, and tradition.

First and foremost, community is not a place, a building, or an organization; nor is it an exchange of information over the internet. Community is both a feeling and a set of relationships among people. Members of a community have a sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other.”
(Chavis & Lee, 2015)

A strong sense of community is important at Camp Wekeela, and everything we do is by design. Each decision is made specifically to build that sense of community. For example, singing together may be the single most-important activity for creating that sense of community at camp. The songs that are performed or played at camp reflect or represent our camp, our community, the people, and the values we treasure. Our songs can, and should, support our camp values.

One of our favorite evening activities are campfires. They take place once a week and in our twenty-six summers, none have been the same. Each one is unique and simply awesome. After all, what is better than witnessing a child, (whether they be seven, twelve or fifteen years of age) stand up in front of hundreds of people and sing a song?! Talk about building community, not to mention fostering a child’s independence, and boosting their self-esteem and self-worth, music at camp is a great vehicle to build a strong sense of trust within a community.

Other places where music plays a large role at camp is in the dining hall. Music is carefully selected for specific meals and themes. It’s very special when the entire camp is singing along to a song in the dining hall. Music at camp can be emotional, spiritual, and therapeutic. When it comes to creating a sense of belonging and companionship, listening to music as a camp can be a highly rewarding activity. It’s one of the most pleasurable activities with which people engage. As one of our favorite artists, Billy Joel once said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” We agree Billy!

Another setting where music plays an important role in fostering our camp community is before bedtime, known at Camp Wekeela as Rituals. Each bunk comes together to put closure on the day. The bunk has its own song, and it can be new, or in most cases typically handed down from one generation to another. Regardless of the song, it becomes their song. And long after camp is over, no matter where that camper or counselor is on this planet of ours, when they hear their special song, they undoubtedly think fondly back to their bunk and Wekeela or may even feel temporarily present back in Maine. That sense of community through music brings back all the positivity, feelings, and good values of camp full circle.

Overall, community is synonymous to Wekeela. We believe it’s instrumental to our success. The Wekeela program profoundly benefits our campers and staff educationally and developmentally — helping them thrive and live inspired lives.

Thank you for choosing Wekeela!