Songs of peace: where I grew up

I grew up on the playgrounds of NYC and in the pools of La Quinta, CA, but I also grew up in a more secluded place. This place is called camp kinderland. Its a progressive, social justice oriented camp started by yiddish speaking immigrants in the 1930s. Each summer it houses more than 200 campers ages 8-16 and transforms their worlds into ones of culture, history and responsibility. Camp K as it is fondly known by many, Isn’t your mothers summer camp (or maybe it is). It’s color war is called the peace olympics where each team is a country or movement that symbolizes the summers theme. In addition to running races and playing ultimate, campers also learn about the history of their team and use it to educate the rest of the camp. Culture sessions (often with an older man called Mitch) teach the history of progressive activism and try to teach students about inequalities that still exist today. It is in this place that I first learned about Pete Seeger, an inspiring folk singer who passed away today at the age of 94. He was a camp ally and also a role model for what you could do with a peaceful attitude. His song If I Had a Hammer was often played during camp “share” which is a time where campers can share what they have done during the day with the rest of the camp. Goodnight Irene was a favorite at camp singing sessions with Ira, the camp program director, and Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Was played yearly at the end of our ceremonies commemorating the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If Pete was our inspiration, Rise Up Singing was our guidebook. So many songs were in there that we sang. Songs about the civil rights movement, unions, anti-war, and just fun tunes. I am so sad to say goodbye to a person who not only transformed music, but american history. Rest in peace Pete, we will miss you more than you know. 

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