So you’ve just returned from a long day of family reunions. Everyone has completed their meals, and you have just finished washing the final pot (didn’t you assist with the dishes?). The sun is set, and everyone has congregated around the campfire. Uncle Bob has just given you two anecdotes about your father that you were unaware of. You had no idea he was such a rogue when he was a youngster, did you?
Cousin Steve is playing his guitar gently. Someone offers a songfest around the campfire. What a brilliant concept! The only issue is that cousin Steve only knows how to play “Louie, Louie” and “Stairway to Heaven.” No worries, just sing without the instrument.
Okay, so who’s in control here?
Uncle Bob recommends a Doobie Brothers tune. Unfortunately, he is the only one who is aware of it.
So, what’s next?
A lot of campfire singalongs die at this point. A little planning will help you avoid the death of singing campfire tunes.
In a word, the greatest camping songs to sing in a group are entertaining or comical tunes that everyone knows or can readily learn. So singing extended songs like “El Paso,” “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” or all of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” is definitely not a smart idea.
If you feel the urge to perform a lengthy song, print out the lyrics for the audience to read. You could be holding a church-oriented campfire, in which case a specific camp song would be a great addition to the programme. But keep in mind that if it’s evening, it’s dark! So, if you pass out song lyrics, participants must have flashlights or be near enough to the fire for the light to let them read the words.
Movement songs are ideal if you have a large number of young children. Here are a number of entertaining camp tunes that spring to mind:
- B-I-N-G-O. Everyone sings the first verse normally in this song. Then, in the second verse, leave out the letter B and replace it with clapping. Leave out the B and I in the third verse and clap in their stead. Continue until you are just clapping and not spelling out the word.
- My Bonnie is lost at sea. Every time you get to a b in this song, you either stand up or sit down, switching back and forth.
There are numerous camp songs in the Wonderful American Campfire Songbook that are great for young children and include movement. There are also some fantastic campfire tunes that people may not be familiar with but are simple to learn.Two examples spring to mind:
- Chumbara. This song was written in Canada. It’s only one word repeated over and again, but it’s a lot of fun. You may also use other terms. Three-syllable terms are preferred, however two- and four-syllable words may still be used. Consider names like E-mi-ly or Je-re-my. Spa-ghet-ti, blue-ber-ry, and broc-col-li are all wonderful foods. This is ideal for groups since everyone can contribute to the following verse.
- I don’t have any bugs on me. This is another “make up your own verses as you go” tune. Bug and Mug are the two words that rhyme in the opening stanza. Think of fresh words to replace them in the following stanza, such as “flies and boys,” “spiders and fighters,” “ants and trousers,” “bees and knees,” and “cougars and boogers.” Do you get the picture?
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