“Back to normal” summer drumming – lessons learned

This summer was Just Add Rhythm’s first big foray “back to normal” with drumming programs. Up until then, we’d offered only a handful of in-person drumming programs since the pandemic – most of our programs were online.

This summer, we were able to serve more than 2,000 children and youth through our in-person and virtual summer camp programs!

It felt a bit like a post-apocolyptic world.

Drums were sanitized before and after each session. Staff reminded participants to keep masks on over nose and mouth – sometimes as frequently as every 5 minutes. Programs were rescheduled due to positive COVID cases at various organizations, forcing CDC-mandated closures.

But, through it all, we had the same basic experience we have with camps every summer – kids got to drum together, work together, and support each other. And boy did we still have FUN!

Read on for a few key lessons I learned while facilitating a busy drum-filled summer this year.

The kiddos are resilient

Kids are surprisingly adaptable and sometimes we don’t give them enough credit. Most kids were happy to wear their masks while drumming together – even if they weren’t required to wear them throughout the camp day.

While wearing masks, we could still detect smiles, hear laughs, and be silly together.

No one seemed to be worse off for wearing their mask for an hour. It was even kind of fun to see each child assert their individuality with a mask design that suited them.

The staff doubled their efforts with a smile

Almost every staff member at each site we visited had more work to do to enforce health and safety rules – and their attitudes were inspiring.

One site spent countless amounts of time at a hand pump sink installed outside the building to ensure kids were washing hands upon entering from outside play.

Most sites distributed masks to campers who had none (sometimes repeatedly) with a smile.

Many sites offered youth staff as drum helpers, who enthusiastically helped us unload, set up, and disinfect equipment before, between, and after sessions.

The drumming felt the same

I was a bit concerned that the drum circle would feel different to me and to the campers because of all the health and safety restrictions. But, from the first day until our final session, it felt just like it always has – high energy and inspiring!

The kiddos encouraged each other, took turns, happily led their group, and absorbed the lessons and themes with enthusiasm.


We can learn a lot about resilience and adaptability from kids. It makes my heart happy to know that we were able to both impact and learn from them during such a roller coaster of a summer this year.


Want to learn more about how group rhythm can impact your organization? Reach out to us!

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