Camps are retreats for children to grow and learn, both emotionally and socially, where they can discover themselves independently. After two years of upheaval, summer camps that are going ahead this year will undoubtedly be faced with more of a need to help children communicate their help them learn to socialize and make new friends.

Summer camp gives kids the chance to interact with new groups of people from all over the country with various abilities, cultures, and even languages. This is what makes camp so special — this blending of different personalities and backgrounds.

When children first arrive, camp can feel like a scary place for some kids, bringing on homesickness, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness before making friends. One way that camps are able to alleviate these feelings for children is through music therapy.

Music has long been used to help people heal, communicate effectively, and bring people together. Music transcends nations and cultures and this is why music is often referred to as the universal language. Music therapy benefits cognitive, emotional, and social issues as well as the physical needs of people. It has proven to be an effective way to help alleviate symptoms and provide a sense of inner calm to people, especially children. Music is also a really fun activity; few pleasures in this world compare to the high you feel from letting your soul flow through your body and out through improvisation and music-making.

The fact that music has been proven to enhance mood, increase feel-good feelings and improve emotion regulation are all powerful indicators that music and music therapy may provide one of the best and certainly the most accessible, holistic approaches to improving mental health available to us today. As various emerging studies are beginning to show, too, this positive effect seems to be multiplied when music therapies are engaged within outdoor environments. Therefore, music must be available in all children’s camps to help kids develop peer relationships, encourage curiosity, communicate their feelings effectively, connect with nature, and most of all, learn how to be creative, which is a valuable transferable skill needed in life.

One way this can be done is by combining the benefits of the great outdoors and music by installing outdoor musical instruments on campgrounds. Weather-resistant and long-lasting outdoor musical instruments make the perfect addition to the environment of camp. Installed by lakeshores, hidden deep within forests, or within existing playgrounds, these instruments add another way to learn and play in the wild by using sounds and vibrations. Best of all, they are totally inclusive, and camp counselors can lead the activity with no training in music needed.

The instruments can be incorporated into a camp program, teaching children the joys of learning how to play music and be creative in producing unique tunes of their own. In contrast, the instruments can be used by children in their free time, meaning that they continue to be stimulated and learn even when playing. They are also accessible to everyone and help develop problem-solving.

Outdoor musical instruments also enable "open-ended play." This means that children can go back to an instrument, time and time again, gradually enhancing their skills and working on it over time. They also enable children to learn to work with others, perhaps learning a tune as an ensemble to put on a performance to mark the end of camp.

Playing these types of instruments in the great outdoors is an easy and enjoyable way to generate a quick burst of all those feel-good endorphins, to give space for emotions to be understood and processed, and provide a distraction from the everyday stresses of life, both large and small. All of this makes outdoor music the leading therapy to help children develop, both socially and emotionally at Camp, while also having fun!

You can read more research on the benefits of music for children here.

This blog post is provided by Percussion Play. Jody Ashfield is the cofounder and CEO of Percussion Play, the leading manufacturer of outdoor musical instruments.


Periodically, the American Camp Association (ACA) makes timely and relevant information about products and services available to its members so they can make informed decisions for their camps. However, the ACA does not endorse products, services, or companies.