Childhood
Gestures
Musical

“Rare Bog, Rattlin’ Bog,” A Camp Song

“Rare Bog, Rattlin’ Bog,” A Camp Song

Chorus (clapping)

Rare bog, rattlin’ bog, way down in the valley-o

Rare bog, rattlin’ bog, way down in the valley-o

And in this bog

There was a tree [arms in front of you in a circle]

A rare tree! [swing arms to left and right]

A rattlin’ tree [shake arms down and right]

[clapping]: And the tree was in the bog, and the bog’s down in the valley-o!

Chorus

And on this tree

There was a branch [stick one arm out]

A rare branch [swing arm back and forth]

A rattlin’ branch [shake arm down]

And the branch was on the tree, and the tree was in the bog, and the bog’s down in the valley-o

Chorus

And on this branch

There was a twig [stick one finger out]

A rare twig [swing arm back and forth]

A rattlin’ twig [shake arm down]

And the twig was on the branch, and the branch was on the tree, and the tree was in the bog, and

the bog’s down in the valley-o

Chorus

And on this twig

There was a nest [make hand into a fist]

A rare nest [swing back and forth]

A rattlin’ nest [shake arm down]

And the nest was on the twig, and the twig was on the branch, and the branch was on the tree and

the tree was in the bog and the bog’s down in the valley-o

Chorus

And in this nest

There was a bird [repeat nest gesture]

A rare bird [repeat]

A rattlin’ bird [repeat]

And the bird was in the nest and the nest was on the twig, and the twig was on the branch, and

the branch was on the tree, and the tree was in the bog and the bog’s down in the valley-o

Chorus

And on that bird

There was a feather [stick finger out]

A rare feather [swing arm]

A rattlin’ feather [shake arm down]

And the feather was on the bird and the bird was in the nest and the nest was on the twig, and the

twig was on the branch, and the branch was on the tree, and the tree was in the bog and the bog’s

down in the valley-o

Chorus

 

The informant is a young woman who attended many years of camp, being immersed in American campfire traditions. Thus, this piece was learned from others of her camp. She admits that very few of her friends and family remember this specific song, and when asked to recall it, she had to take many moments to write it out herself to solidify the tune in her mind.

So many characteristics of the piece indicate that it is suited for children: it’s rhythmic, repetitious, and physical, allowing children to learn quickly and engage with others in a performative way.

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