Camp Song Collection
Camp Songs - perfect around the campfire this summer
Give your kids some songs they will be able to sing around the campfire over the summer break.
Get printed lyrics, printed vocal score (where applicable).
Some instructions are also provided.
Watch selected video samples to learn these fun camp songs.
Print this webpage (or save the pdf) for future reference.
Camp Songs are a wonderful tool for your students to access when they leave the music room and find themselves in a social setting where someone says, “Let’s sing something together!” Singing as a community can be great fun and might even be a catalyst for students to join an organized ensemble, such as a choir, in the future.
Singing in a social setting creates a feeling of unity and shared experience. Singing in the semi-dark, around a campfire can be reassuring for hesitant or self-conscious singers. It can be a bonding experience that is further cemented by the ambience of a crackling fire and maybe a marshmallow or two.
Donna's Camp Song Collection provides camp songs in the 5 categories listed below. The songs in each category have a place around the campfire and can promote various aspects of singing.
Camp songs come in a variety of categories:
Get all 20 Camp Songs Here
Songs with disgusting lyrics are particularly useful if students are reticent to sing. Even students who have not sung a note all year long in the regular music class activities, suddenly find their voice when they are able to belt out a disgusting scenario from “Tom the Toad” while around the camp fire. The students forget their inhibitions and they sing along as they laugh about the lyrics. Suddenly those students discover the joy of singing with others, they fit in, they are part of the group. It is magic. A bonus for this is their ability to have a song to suggest if they are ever at a campfire with their peers.
Action songs are good for laughing with fellow singers as everyone tries to match the actions with the words without getting all tangled up. Action songs also help with retention of the words as physical cues reinforce the lyrics that are being sung. For some action songs you may need to step away and not be too close to the campfire.
Call and Response / Echo songs are perfect camp songs if you have a musical leader who can remember the melody and all the words. With call and response built into the song, everyone is involved in the song, but there is no responsibility for remembering the words. In the early pioneering days when voyageurs were using waterways to transport goods to remote areas in Canada, the paddlers would sing to help them paddle together as a single functioning unit. One person in the crew was actually paid a bit more money for their ability to lead the singing and remember all the words!
Sing-along songs often tell a funny story, a tall tale, or are just silly. They create community as everyone joins in to tell the story and have some fun singing together around the campfire.
Canons and rounds are usually simple songs that can be passed around a circle of singers at the campfire. This is a fantastic way to hear multiple pitches in pleasing combinations and start learning how to sing in harmony. Rounds are often sung as the dying embers of the campfire send their final sparks up into the starry night sky.
Teaching children camp songs is a great activity for the end of the school year. The main curriculum goals have been accomplished. Teachers are busy compiling assessments from the term and writing report cards and new concepts are not introduced in these last few weeks of school. It is time for review, and to have some fun using the music skills that have been developed over the school year. Camp songs are a great way to enjoy singing and provide a library of songs that children will be comfortable singing when they are out of the music room over the summer. Creating opportunities to develop independent singing is a gift. Students will think they are getting away with something as they sing these funny, disgusting, and silly songs. As music teachers, let’s not tell them they are actually developing some music skills. Just let them keep singing along.There may be administrators or parents who question the validity of these camp songs in the educational setting. As your students leave the music room singing “Tom the Toad” and creating new verses (and we didn’t even talk about the benefits of encouraging composing!!!) teachers are well advised to be prepared to explain their curriculum choices. A well-laid out yearly curriculum plan showing that the required concepts and skills have been covered and an explanation of the value of these songs (as outlined above) should be available for anyone who might need reassurance that curriculum has not been thrown out the window.
Donna’s Camp Song Collection
Over the years I have created a large file folder of camp songs from which I can draw each June when I do my camp song unit. It is interesting to me to see the songs that we used to sing that have now been “retired” due to language or inferences that are now deemed to be inappropriate. There are still lots from which to choose, and I have put together my favourites and the ones the students love the most. Even so, it is best to leave out any song (even from my collection of favourites) that raise concerns in whatever your personal circumstances may be.“When in doubt, leave it out” is probably a good motto.
Happy camp song singing!
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Composer, Elementary Music Specialist, Performer
Donna has taught elementary music for 35 years. As a Composer - Donna has over 400 published solo voice, choral, handbell, recorder, violin and piano compositons. She is an accomplished presenter and continues to perform in the duo "Donna & Andy"