Voices Emerge – A Reflection on Hip Hop Camp

As the Free Arts team delves further into summer and wraps up the final installment of their Camp Series, I reflect on the significance of the experiences at camp and how they fulfill the Free Arts mission.

The Free Arts program team worked tirelessly to make sure that all camp activities ran as planned, and it was only with the help of interns, mentors, teaching artists, and volunteers that these programs were made possible.

I got to observe all of this hard work firsthand as an intern this summer.

With all the time and effort that goes into producing a flawless camp experience, it is important to continuously ask “why”? Why does Free Arts devote so much time and so many resources to its camp programs? Why focus on these specific types of art? And, most importantly, why does Free Arts expose the children it serves to these forms of art?

The final installment of Free Arts camp series, Hip Hop Camp, seeks to empower children through participation in workshops about graffiti arts, bboying (hip-hop dancing), emceeing, free style/wisdom, and a beat lab that relates to the production of music.

The hip-hop movement itself is rooted in empowering those that are underrepresented or deemed unimportant by society. The children that Free Arts serves often fit this description.

At Hip Hop Camp, Free Arts seeks, not only to teach the children about the various forms of art within the hip-hop community but also to how to find their own voice within that community. Finding and sharing your voice can be scary—especially for the children at camp, which is why Free Arts strives to create a safe space for expression. Camp Director, Ruth Sager began camp on Monday by telling the campers, “Your voice is important to us”.

Throughout the week, I personally saw these voices emerge. Campers that sat silently and refused to participate on Monday were performing in front of an audience by Friday. Secret notebook writings were shared with peers. Kids that were shy and soft-spoken read their raps aloud to their groups.

These visible transformations answer the question “why”. Witnessing a child become courageous enough to try new things and open up to new people was inspiring in and of itself, and knowing that Free Arts had succeeded in creating a place of safety and trust only elevated that feeling.

I feel lucky to have been a part of something bigger than myself as an intern at Free Arts this summer. I look forward to hearing about their continued success and returning to camp soon.

Info about the Hip Hop movement:


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