As fair approaches, we are taking the time to prepare, create, and also to reflect on what this day means to us at Indian Brook, and the importance of understanding our own identity and history. On Sunday evening, we had different stations that campers rotated through: making tea bags, painting postcards, creating confetti-filled eggshells to be sold at fair, and a station that went over IB songs and song histories.

This last station I facilitated with a few other staff. One big part of fair is the open mic stage, which IB helps host, so we wanted to give campers a chance to dig into some of our most special songs that we are going to be sharing at fair.

One group ended up having a conversation about “Black Boys on Mopeds” by Sinead O’Connor. This is a song that many of the campers already knew the history of (we share the history of many of our songs before we sing them in the morning), but it was interesting to hear summaries in their own words from campers. The song refers to an incident in England in 1989 where the police were pursuing a young black man named Nicholas Bramble who they believed had stolen the moped he was riding on. Bramble lost control of the moped (which was indeed his) and was killed. His death sparked accusations of police brutality and racism within the police system; many people believed if he had been white he would not have been pursued so aggressively.

As facilitators, we asked campers if they thought this song was still relevant to sing today. Several nodded enthusiastically, saying it was applicable to how much police brutality and racism we still see in our country today. Another camper curiously asked, “Wait, stuff like that still happens?”, and before any staff could reply, another camper had already begun to respond, opening up a discussion about Black Lives Matter, Treyvon Martin and Tamir Rice. We held the space and occasionally added a question, but it was wonderful to see campers being vulnerable about their own knowledge and guiding each other through a complex conversation.

Another song we discussed was “If I Had a Hammer” by Pete Seeger, written in 1949 in support of the Progressive Movement and famously sung at Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as well as many other movements and protests. We asked campers what might be useful or important about having songs and music as a part of social movements. They had a lot of thoughts:

“Music brings people together.”

“When you sing, you’re singing with your heart. That’s important in protests.”

“Sometimes with a song you can understand someone’s experience more.”

“Singing is fun!”

Brilliant! I sat in awe (as I often do at camp) at these young people reflecting on empathy, connection, love and the importance of joy and play in social change. We are excited to see many of you at fair and continue to share our songs and what is important to us there!

-Rosie, IB Sensible Mental Health Person

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