Over the Memorial Day Weekend, we at Here/Hear spent the whole time in a park in Chillicothe, IL for the annual tradition known as Summer Camp Music Festival. This was a four day festival and entailed a lot for us. Let me briefly talk about some of the cool things that we got to experience, besides the musical acts, and then what we might have learned.

First, we had our booth in the nonprofit section, called the “Make a Difference” section of the festival. Our booth had a variety of things going on that allowed us to engage the goers of Summer Camp in a way that promoted mental health and raised awareness for mental illness. We had some live paintings that were definitely very cool and a hit of the festival. People were allowed to paint whatever they wanted, although we used the following prompts (which all came from song lyrics of bands/artists playing or who have played Summer Camp): “Ain’t Life Grand” (Widespread Panic), “Heavy Things,” (Phish), and “When It Rains it Pours” (Twiddle). People drew all sorts of great things and made beautiful, communal art. We also had a chalkboard that anyone could write an encouraging word or write some positive things.

Our executive director, Nate, also got to lead a workshop on mindfulness at the festival. During this time, Nate showed the importance of staying with the mundane and everyday and using those as points for meditation and mindfulness. It impacted a number of people, as Nate was able to have in depth-conversations with at least three people after this workshop. These people engaged Nate on a number of topics, including about how mindfulness helps with mental illness, the cultivation of mental health, and how to deal with the things that come up in our meditation. We also talked about dealing with medication and what role medication has in a more holistic, natural community.
The highlight at Summer Camp Music Festival was probably making an announcement from the Moonshine Stage, one of the two main stages at the festival.  One of the great things Summer Camp affords their nonprofit participants is to make an announcement from a stage about the organization. All the nonprofits get to pick who they will present after on a first come-first serve basis. We asked to make the announcement after Mike Gordon, the bassist for the jamband Phish. This was a highlight for Nate because Gordon is one of his musical heroes. But, beyond that, Nate got to share the message of Here/Hear providing hope to those affected by mental illness to a large number of people. Surprising to the Here/Hear crew was the fact that people remembered and really engaged our message, talking to us at different places throughout the weekend (we were easy to find since we always were rocking our Here/Hear T-shirts).

In all, it was a great weekend where we got to cover some new and interesting ground. We’re looking forward to getting back there in 2018.