The Rap Camp is a musical educational experience and journey. It creates an environment of love, respect and encouragement which empowers participants in their self-expression within a secure context of positive social reinforcement. The ultimate goal of The Rap Camp is to help participants realize their own inherent nobility and, beat by beat, build confidence in themselves. All of this is achieved through the powerful medium of rap.
In 2013, from a natural desire to assist his younger cousin experiencing bullying at school, Karim shared a process with him that turned personal poetry into powerful rap. That process empowered his cousin to express himself in new and intimate ways previously unexplored, opening up channels for healing and a deeper understanding of that complicated and challenging time. Seeing how valuable it was for one person, Karim expanded the process and its elements into what eventually became The Rap Camp. Held at Nancy Campbell Academy, the inaugural Rap Camp was a 6 day, overnight camp that included day trips to Fusion Youth Centre and Metalworks Studios.
From those early days, The Rap Camp has provided opportunities for thousands of youth and young adults to explore themselves, but importantly, an outward orientation to better understand their place in an ever-changing landscape. Sessions have been commissioned for Music Therapy and Drama programs, by the University of Calgary to support Indigenous language learning, to introduce Canada, English as a Second Language (ESL) and arts training to many groups of students from Brazil, and to engage youth at multiple conferences across Canada and the United States. The Rap Camp is a proven mobile and flexible process, and Karim has shared this innovative learning experience with children, youth and educators in South Korea, the Bahamas, Grenada, and Guyana - where the impact of the experience deeply resonated with a group of adult prisoners.
Some Notable Rap Camps
Some Notable Rap Camps
Part of the Citizen Security Strengthening Program offering art therapy and training for inmates and officers
South Korea, 2017
Rap Camp at the childhood home of Ban Ki Moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations
The Bahamas, 2016
As part of Nancy Campbell Academy international service trip to high schools in the Bahamas
2018 - 2021
2018 - 2021
Workshops at Wilfred Laurier University for undergraduate and graduate students studying music therapy
2015 - 2018
2015 - 2018
Programs for ESL and arts training for many groups of students from Brazil
2014 - 2016
2014 - 2016
At the University of Calgary to support Indigenous language learning
The Rap Camp is a multi-generational experience open to families, community groups, organizations, and companies.
Sessions run between 30 minutes to 3 weeks, with longer workshops expanding to provide additional experience with various art forms, with a group of other trusted and specialist instructors.
Since the summer of 2020, sessions have been conducted successfully online, with a special focus on children and youth in middle school years.
What’s the secret?
Respect & Encouragement
Over the years, Karim has discovered that two foundationally important principles lead to a session’s success: respect and encouragement. Whether the experience is 20 minutes or 21 days, Karim creates a learning and exploratory environment in which all participate, all create, and all share - with trust and with joy. Participants engage in structured writing and creative sessions, always with specific time frames and followed by sharing their creations with the larger group. Depending on time, participants either write a group song, which contrary to expectation is entirely possible, or their own individual song in which their life stories - past, present and future - are shared in lyrics and beats, in rhythm and rhyme. Storytelling through rap allows participants to quickly learn more about each other, and important particularly for youth at this time, about themselves. For all participants, regardless of age, performance anxieties and limiting thoughts are washed away in this structured, yet spontaneous, creative process. The experience leaves participants uplifted, hopeful, and connected more deeply to themselves, and to each other.
“I have had the privilege of working with Karim for the past three years as a guest clinician for two of the music therapy clinical improvisation courses I teach at Wilfrid Laurier University to both undergraduate and graduate students. The purpose of these courses is for students to learn to improvise in different musical styles, so that they can encourage their clients to express emotions, to achieve specific cognitive, physical, and social goals, and to increase their self-confidence and self-awareness.
"As part of Karim's workshop, music therapy students have participated in accelerated rap camp experiences. After every workshop, students express the significance of this learning experience on their own clinical work. They have adapted the tools and resources introduced in the workshop to lead individual clients on musical journeys of self-discovery and emotional expression through spoken word and songwriting experiences. Students have also used rap writing in group settings, where the only commonality among participants is their love of Rap and Hip Hop and the end goal of creating a musical project as a supportive group.
"Aside from these clinical applications, Karim's workshops have been therapeutic gifts for my students personally as well, as they have learned a lot about themselves through the process in a supportive environment where personal growth and acceptance are paramount.” (Rebekah Jordan-Miller, DMA, MT-BC, NMT; Acting Director - Beckett School at Laurier; Doctor of Musical Arts ; Music Therapist - Board Certified; Neurological Music Therapist)
“Hi I’m Zach, I’m a full blooded Native American. If it weren’t for this, I probably would’ve been stuck in the same way I was before, and I feel a lot better about myself, my writing, and a lot of my music in general.”
(Zach a.k.a. Bigg Zee - Rap Camp participant who has become a facilitator.)
“Lately, he has been struggling with some anxiety issues, and last week he told me that your class makes it go away. We feel very, very lucky to have connected with you.” (Mother of current online participant)
“Rap Camp with Karim was one of the best decisions we made for Wesley this year. Great music training and positive encouragement.” (Mother of current online participant)
Reflections of the inmates in Guyana
"I was able to release a burden I’ve been carrying for 18 years."
"I learned some valuable skills in writing raps/poetry/songs."
"I want to record more songs, and also publish my writing work."
"We learned how to build trust in our group."
"We learned how to sit with silence and when someone is opening up that it is not an invitation to respond and give advice but that we should simply listen, and if asked for - then share opinions."
"I have more confidence."