A couple months ago, I had the pleasure of brainstorming ideas for a special culture & arts event for a school with 450 elementary school kids. My brainstorming companion was Leslie Gereghty of the Recreational Music Center in San Diego. The camp would be a week long, and we would have been able to split the kids up into lots of smaller groups.

Percussion for kids

With Camp Kesem coming up for me this weekend, I figured it would be a great time to throw down some ideas and get yours too! (I need some more ideas!!!) There are more like 60 kids at Camp Kesem, but it’s still fun to imagine camp with 450 kids…

Here’s what we came up with:

1. Take time to prepare beforehand. Meet with the counselors and aides for rhythm training a few days before the camp. This way, the counselors, facilitators, and aides are all on the same page. Teach the counselors rhythm sections of songs. Then when you’re altogether with the kids, the counselors can teach their smaller groups each separate rhythm. On the last day of camp we’ll combine everyone. *This is how I pull off all the boomwhacker songs!

2. Split the groups. One idea we had was to separate the groups so that the younger kids experience “percussion instrument petting zoos” while the older half rehearses assorted boomwhacker, drumming, and body percussion ensembles during the week. At the end of the week, the older kids perform for the younger kids, empowering the older kids and inspiring the younger kids. *Just one of several options in splitting a larger group with varied ages. Have more suggestions? Love to hear them!

3. Lots of body percussion for kids! This is easier on you because equipment isn’t necessary. Besides I’m not sure where we would come up with 450 boomwhackers. I personally own just over 100, that includes chromatics, and they take up an entire corner in my office. You can see the abundance of boomwhackers from when the mobsters escaped my apartment.

4. Have easy songs ready. We’ll definitely do In the Jungle, 3 Little Birds (Everything Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright), Lean on Me, Purple People Eater, We Will Rock You, Twist & Shout, Rockin Robin. Some world chants include: Funga Alafia (W African), Tuwe Tuwe (W African), Inna Nay (Aboriginal), Kiowate Linia (Native American). See the “Kat Song” below!

5. Boomwhackers. Last year’s song was I Gotta Feelin. This year’s song is Firework!

6. Have wipeys ready. We’ll be drumming and boomwhacking outside, so we’ll need to wipe everything down before it goes back into my car!

Check out this totally interactive super fun cool song called the KAT SONG! I use this one at all my camps, too. Then the kids remember my name, and they dance during the “What kinda cat are you” chorus. At the end of each dance episode, I count down 4-3-2-1, “Sit down!” so everybody knows it’s time for more riddles!


What do YOU do for kids at camps?

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