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Music at GRP

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Green River Preserve is a land of stories, and many of those stories are told with music.
These stories, with characters and plots of chords and lyrics alike, have and will always be instrumental (pun intended) to the Green River Preserve experience. Every morning, we give gratitude and thanks to the world with Wind-de-ah-ho, a morning blessing song. Its beauty is in its simplicity, just a few simple lines, a drum to establish a calm and resigned cadence, much like the rivers and streams and creeks and bogs of the Green River Valley, and our voices, praising the air, the earth, the water, the wild, and life for all the joy it gives us:

“Win de ah ho, “Win de ah ho, “Win de ah, “Win de ah, “Yo ho, yo ho, “Heya ho, heya ho, “Ya, ya, ya.”

At lunch and dinner, we celebrate the world with more energetic blessings, with deep and bellowing yops, following mentor hikes, activities, the best hour (aka rest hour), and free time of learning and fun challenges:

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“Ooooooo! “The Earth is good to me! “And so I thank the Earth! “For giving me “The things I need, “The sun, “And the rain, “And the GRP! “The Earth is good to me, “Aho!”

During our lower council fires, our upper council fires, or our Long Rock evening programs, the Green River Ramblers make their appearance. Composed of both campers and staff, the band’s consistency rests in the joy we all have for the stories we tell in our music, and it is with the Green River Rambles that we get to experience some classic camp songs. From the sarcastic epic of the Beatles’ Rocky Raccoon (Nancy!) and the serene songs of Here Comes the Sun and Blackbird, to John Prine’s lament for his old home in Paradise, to the excitable and ecstatic Banana Slug, the variety in the music performed keeps us on the edge of our collective seats (or crazy creaks).

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During the variety show, campers get to perform their own music, from contemporary works like Imagine Dragons, to classical pieces of music from the masters of Bach, Beethoven, or Mendelsohn, to the emotion of pieces like Ashokan Farewell. When I was a camper, I performed a piece on my violin that I wrote for GRP during the variety show. I called the piece Home. My violin and I are still happy everytime we get to perform it.

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Every night, before Rose, Bud, Thorn and lights out, we perform Sisters, Brothers, another blessing and story of thanks and gratitude. With this one specifically, it speaks of thankfulness for the people around us.

“Sisters, brothers, “Let me tell you “How I am feeling: “You have given me such treasures, “I love you so.” Its second and third verses, not quite as well known, are still quite beautiful, and a greater reminder of appreciation of those in our lives. “Hey, ho, nobody home, “Food nor drink nor money have I none, “Still I will be merry, “Hey, ho, nobody home; “O, poor bird, “Why art thou, “Hiding in the shadows “Of this dark night?”

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Perhaps our best and most important song is our camp anthem, appropriately titled the Campthem. Composed and written by campers, it is a joyous tune that is our own blessing for GRP, a love for the wonders and lessons and friends and joy it gives us every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every summer, every year, everyone.

Green River Preserve is a land of stories, and many of those stories are told with music. No matter the story, they always remind me to seek the joy of being alive.

Blog by Noah Gerhardt and pictures by Samantha Keebler