Camp Songs; Why We Love Them

It took me until adulthood to realize that my love for music stemmed from my childhood summers at camp.  I spent a month every summer at camp in the hills of Salt Rock, West Virginia.  A half a century has passed, and I can still sing all those camp songs.  The words are crystal clear.  Funny thing, its the songs that bring back the memories of camp.  Morning Sing and Evening Sing were a constant at camp, and that’s when we all came together as a group.  Songs and music bring people together.

Camp songs range from fun and nonsensical to serious.  When I was a child at camp, singing “I’ll Build a Bungalow” had the challenge of adding another ending to the multitude of endings of the song, beginning with “matches in a gas tank, boom boom”.  My camp cabin added, “chicken in a frying pan, slick chick”.  The former certainly dates the song, and the latter shows that the song was still a popular camp song.  Learning to sing in a round was tricky, and then there were the songs that rattled the walls, like “Slap Bang”.  We used sign language, especially with serious songs, and that was heartfelt for all campers.  We sang camp songs on hikes, at meals, walking to the showers.  Singing was everywhere.

Fast forward to today, and nothing has changed.  Thank goodness!  “Boom Chick A Boom”, “Catalina Matalina”, “Bed Bug Song” and so many more songs all have that common thread.  They’re complicated, and they often involve movements, or singing in different voices.  Camp songs aren’t easy to learn to sing, but everyone loves them.  They make a lasting impression and I think I know why.

Singing is universal; it pulls people together.  Children love singing and repetition, and camp songs are sung at least twice a day.  It’s a huge building block.  The complexity of the songs adds to the excitement, and to learning.  This is important; hearing comes first with children, and that is followed by speaking, and then reading.  So, all those songs are poured into the brain.  Camp songs are important because they are complex and make the brain work harder.  Then, when a child is ready to read, it’s easier if they have had the experience of  singing camp songs.  Reading aloud is fundamental, and singing aloud helps children learn.

I stretch the minds of children when I chapter read.  Chapter reading is not supposed to be for preschoolers, yet I do it and they love it.  Camp songs stretch the mind in the same way, with difficult verses, words and more.  Singing helps the mind retain not only words, but information.

I learned that the sun is 93 million miles away from the earth, because of singing the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes commercial.  I learned how to spell ‘encyclopedia’ because Jiminy Cricket sang it.

Singing cements language.  Music pulls it all together.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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3 Responses to Camp Songs; Why We Love Them

  1. Barbie Pyles says:

    Very nice, Jennie!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Lisa Besse says:

    Dont forget learning B-O-L-O-G-N-A!! (oscar meyer!)
    Love you!

  3. Terri Martin says:

    Camp singalongs at Camp Kaleidocope are my favorite parts of the day! Thank you for ALL of the
    Camp songs you have taught us through the years! I hate birds but my favorite camp song is “The Birdie Song”!

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