Mar 9, 2007, 8:20 AM
Post #1 of 1
Campfire songfests with guitars and s'mores unite campers, staff, and camp administrators for nights of music, fun food, and starlight.
Summer Campfire Music
The warmth of the fire, melodies and harmonies, shining stars, and holding hands, create a communal experience that reaches back to simpler eras when people were closer to nature and recognized a deeper significance in the glowing night.
Despite its significance to the traditional summer camp experience, very little has been written about the summer campfire singalong. There are many fun and amusing campfire songs, like – Boa Constrictor, If You’re Happy – that can be accessed through websites like Ultimate Camp Resource, and camp song books.
Still, many campfires acquire more mature, poignant tones when themes of social justice are involved. Gospel songs are simultaneously devoted to pleas to God and recognition of suffering, injustice, and a call to overcome prejudice.
Dust Bowl balladeers, under the leadership of Woody Guthrie, have provided campfires with the standards – 'This Land is Your Land' and 'This Train Is Bound for Glory'.
Guthrie’s prodigy, Bob Dylan, created several popular camp songs – 'Blowin' in the Wind', 'The Times They are a Changin', 'I Shall Be Released', and others.
Dylan’s fellow '60s protest singers – Pete Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, Joan Baez & others – also contributed several long-lasting campfire songs, like: 'Where Have All the Flowers Gone?', 'If I Had a Hammer', and 'Puff the Magic Dragon'.
Many of these songs remain campfire favorites but pass in and out of favor with the times. The portable nature of the guitar has afforded ensuing generations with the ability to sing out with their own songs.
The early '70s saw the rise of The Grateful Dead and reggae tunes at campfire places; the '80s featured Tears for Fears and other popular bands; in the nineties campfire smelled like teen spirit.
Eras transform music and music transforms eras; campfires still glow even in the age of iPods. Campfires can't be downloaded, yet their natural appeal lives on.
Summer camp singalongs are not exclusive to fireside settings. A clever idea is to paddle a small group of canoes out on a lake on a calm night for the presentation of the singing ritual. The water, the rippling waves, the breeze, a guitarist, and some clear-throated singers can carry a chorus of summer carols that campers love.
During bad weather, singalongs are great fun inside a recreation center or the dining hall. During long bus rides, songs break the monotony until the destination is at hand.
Does summer camp have a responsibility to keep the singalong alive? Most summer camp owners and directors answer in the positive. They are communal activities for kids, unlike iPods where each person cocoons into a world of one's own. Summer camp singalongs are opportunities to participate, raise group awareness, and promote teambuilding.
All the more reasons to have kids raise their singing voices in an increasingly digitalized world.
Stephen Winbaum is the Communications Coordinator of MySummerCamps.com
(This post was edited by stephenwinbaum on Mar 13, 2007, 8:10 AM)