5 Simple Ways to Step Up Your Music Game This Summer

5 Simple Ways to Step Up Your Music Game This Summer

A mentor of mine once told me that the greatest way to build a connection with someone is to “break bread with them” or share a meal. I never bothered to ask him his reasoning behind this, but I think I would have to disagree regardless. I would say you should “break playlists”, the musical kind, and I won’t wait for you to bother to ask me why. I believe that sharing music surpasses a dinner for schmucks or a breakfast at Tiffany’s, in that it has the ability to instill a connection, between people, beyond a single moment.

“WOAH WOAH WOAH! Slow down there, Nelson – your head may be a little too far in the clouds. What exactly are you talking about? “

Ok, hear me out. If I share a meal with you, we’ll chat, talk, and likely do lots of clowning. However, everything we share will probably be recent and reflective of our current moods. However, if you were to share with me the playlist you made on April 4th, 2007 – I would get insight into not only who you were then, but also a glimpse into how far you’ve come since. Call me a hopeless connector, but if I see early 2000’s Evanescence on there…I’m going to know you’ve been to a Hot Topic more than a few times and at least considered that “When We Were Young” festival. “It wasn’t just a phase, mom!”

But for real, music has the ability to set the mood and encourage connection with little to no effort on our part…we literally just have to push play. If I’m working smarter and not harder, I’m thinking of ways to up my music game this summer instead of a cool new team building activity. And if I’m even smarter I’m reading this blog post where Nelson has been kind enough to curate: 5 Simple Ways to Up Your Music Game this Summer.

1. Add Hip Hop to your Camp Playlist

Throughout my career in camping I’ve consistently been met with a negative stigma around playing hip hop at camp. As a Black American - Hip Hop, Rap, and R&B has, is, and always will be a strong part of my culture. Hearing hip hop being played at camp makes it feel that much more like home and helps me feel comfortable to be myself. This has been true since my first summer at age 11, and I would argue that I am not alone in this sentiment.  Here’s a Spotify playlist to help you get started with this one: The Cookout” Playlist

(Side Note: If you happen to find your music elsewhere, type in “Black Cookout Music”, choose the first playlist you see, push play)

2. Use Lo-fi Music

Lo-Fi music, or Low Fidelity music, is great for chill times at camp. Think rest hours, rainy days where everyone has to be inside, and intimate cabin chats. The best part about playing lo-fi music is that it can be neutral and relatable at the same time anddd it literally makes you happier.  The best part about lo-fi is you can show love to different groups at your camp, while still keeping everything low key, by playing themed lo-fi. My go-to at camp is Anime Theme Song” lo-fi. Here’s another playlist to enhance your camps low-energy moments this summer: “Lo-fi Pop Covers” playlist   

3. Play “Kidz Trap Music”

Honestly, just trust me on this one. These👏🏾songs👏🏾are👏🏾 bops👏🏾. At camp last summer we used these songs for quick and easy entertainment at short camp gatherings when we were too lazy to come up with a bit or a skit. Think – waiting for all your camp groups to meet at the flagstones before the evening activity.  Here’s the playlist: “Kidz Trap” Playlist

Note from Allison: I play a lot of I Love My Mom for my eight month old

4. Add in Tik Tok Music

If you enjoy being relatable, making connections, or building community with youth then Tik Tok should be your best friend or at least like one of the homies. At this point it would be almost immature to not use Tik Tok as a tool to create and grow bonds. Tik tok music is one of the easiest ways to do so.

Pro Tip: You don’t even have to download it! Just go to where you find music and type in “popular tik tok songs.” Listen to a few and add the ones that you feel comfortable with to your camp playlist.

Pro-er Tip : Ask your staff for recommendations before camp starts and have them add it to a community Google Doc. This is a fun & easy way to get your staff thinking about camp in these spring months and takes a lot of the guesswork out of trying to figure out what your staff will enjoy.

Here’s a playlist of songs from Tik Tok I’ll be playing at my camp this year: “Camp Tikkety Tok” Playlist     

5. Don’t Wait for Disney!

Disney, and Disney Pixar, over the years have been the door opener for many people into the lives and customs of various cultures and experiences. They have progressively invited people to step out of their comfort zone, if only for a moment, with playful coming of age tales and incredibly written soundtracks. Moana, Luca, Soul, Encanto, and more recently Turning Red are a few examples of the studio shining light on areas we as Americans may only keep in our peripherals. I’ll be honest I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened in Moana but I could tell you how far she’d go.

Disney creators have figured out that whether we talk about it or not (looking at you Bruno👀) real life happens and stronger connections can be built by embracing the harder parts head on. I believe camps, with just a little effort, could do the same without waiting for Pixar’s next hit to give us the motivation to do so. Start exploring new music now!

There’s no playlist for this one but here’s a challenge for you –

Turn off the Avett Brothers and put on some Tupac. Instead of going for the Taylor Swift song that never fails try putting on some Punjabi music and see what happens. BTS has done a good job of bringing K-pop into our line of sight but did you know that the Philippines have their own take on K-pop as well as just about any other genre you can find? Check that out.

The challenge is to explore and include music from all walks of life into your regular list of songs you might play this summer. Music has so much potential to fortify and elevate any community to another level and we in the camping industry have only been dipping our toes in the water. It’s time to dive in.

Author’s Note

Hey hey, Nelson here! I really really love camp, but I also really really love music. Before I became a full time camp professional I made ends meet through music working as a professional DJ for 6 years. Whether it was a bar, sweet 16, office christmas party, or wedding it was my responsibility to create, build, and maintain connections with likely strangers for hours on end. I was lucky enough to bring the skills I built in that world to my positions at camp and would often take ownership of music related programming- think camp dances/schmances, talent shows, and music production classes among others. Here’s my personal go-to playlist I would use to set the mood for just about any situation at camp: “Summa Camp” Playlist.





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