USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘camp songs’
Musical

“George Fox”

My friend Razi went to a Quaker summer camp in Virginia called Shiloh Quaker Camp for several years as a kid. She learned a number of folk songs with Quaker themes as a camper there. The following is a recording of Razi singing a song about George Fox, one of the founders of Quakerism, which she learned at camp and often sings, along with the lyrics:

There’s a light that was shining in the heart of man
It’s a light that was shining when the world began
There’s a light that is shining in the Turk and the Jew
There’s a light that is shining friend in me and in you (hey)

Walk in the light wherever you may be
Why don’t you walk in the light wherever you may be?
“In my old leather britches and my shaggy, shaggy locks,
I am walking in the glory of the light,” said Fox.

“There’s a bell and a steeple and a book and a key
That will bind him forever but you can’t,” said he,
“For the book it will perish and the steeple will fall
But the light will be shining at the end of it all” (hey)

Walk in the light wherever you may be
Why don’t you walk in the light wherever you may be?
“In my old leather britches and my shaggy shaggy locks,
I am walking in the glory of the light,” said Fox.

This song specifically celebrates the Quaker belief of the “inner light” or “light of God,” but its morals can be embraced by non-Quakers as well. Quakerism is a particularly open religion in terms of its acceptance of other religions, so songs that come out of the tradition can often be sung with the same conviction by people who have to particular affiliation with the religion. Razi is Jewish and agnostic, but she agrees with many of the values taught at Quaker camp, so songs like this one have stuck with her.

Musical

“Vine and Fig Tree”

My friend Razi went to a Quaker summer camp in Virginia called Shiloh Quaker Camp for several years as a kid. She learned a number of folk songs with Quaker themes as a camper there. The following is a recording of Razi singing a song called “Vine and Fig Tree,” which she learned at camp and often sings, along with the lyrics:

And everyone ‘neath their vine and fig tree
Shall live in peace and unafraid
And everyone ‘neath their vine and fig tree
Shall live in peace and unafraid

And into ploughshares turn their swords
Nations shall learn war no more
And into ploughshares turn their swords
Nations shall learn war no more

With love to thy neighbor
And love to the spirit of all light
With love to thy neighbor
And love to the spirit of all light

This song embraces pacifism from a Quaker perspective, but its message can be appreciated by any pacifist. Quakerism is a particularly open religion in terms of its acceptance of other religions, so songs that come out of the tradition can often be sung with the same conviction by people who have to particular affiliation with the religion. Razi is Jewish and agnostic, but she agrees with many of the values taught at Quaker camp, so songs like this one have stuck with her.

general

“Love the Life You Live”

My friend Razi went to a Quaker summer camp in Virginia called Shiloh Quaker Camp for several years as a kid. She learned a number of folk songs with Quaker themes as a camper there. The following is a recording of Razi singing one of these songs, along with the lyrics. She doesn’t remember what the song is called, so I’m referring to it by the first line.

Love the life you live with all your
Heart and all your soul and all your
Mind and love all human-
Kind as you would (clap) love yourself!

Love the life you
Live with all your
Heart and all your
Soul and mind to (clap) let your love flow!

We’ve got all our lives to live
We’ve got all our hearts to give
We’ve got love inside our souls
And it will make us whole!

This song celebrates Quaker values that non-Quakers can appreciate as well. It is optimistic and cheerful, and makes no specific reference to God or religion, so it can be embraced as a secular folk song. Quakerism is a particularly open religion in terms of its acceptance of other religions, so songs that come out of the tradition can often be sung with the same conviction by people who have to particular affiliation with the religion. Razi is Jewish and agnostic, but she agrees with many of the values taught at Quaker camp, so songs like this one have stuck with her.

Musical

Wishcraft

“If there were witchcraft, I’d make two wishes,

a winding road that beckons me to roam,

and then I’d wish for a blazing campfire,

to welcome me when I’m returning home.

But, in this real world there is no witchcraft and golden wishes do no grow on trees.

Our fondest day dreams must be the magic that brings us back our happy memories.

Memories that linger, constant and true,

memories we’ll cherish, Camp Lo-Kai of you.

“I would sing this song at camp, always around a fire. We usually closed each night at camp with a big bon-fire. This would be the last song we’d sing before we headed to our cabins for the night! My friends and I just found out recently that the lyrics actually say “If there were wish craft”, so we’d been singing it wrong all this time! We do think the actual lyrics do make a little bit more sense than what we had been singing.”

Songs are an integral part of many camping experiences. In my mind, these songs help form a sense of community among the campers. This song in particular seems to evoke a certain nostalgia, a fondness for memories and a hope that the memories made during camp will last a lifetime. Indeed, this does seem to be the case for the informant, as she still meets with some of her camp friends, often singing this song when they do.

I found the shift in the lyrics interesting, especially given the fact that the informant and her friends came to like what was supposedly the original script of the song. This illustrates the change that is characteristic of folklore, but also brings up an important nuance: that this change is not always unidirectional, and can change back and forth depending on the sensibilities of the performer.

Customs
Musical

Camp Cheley Songs

There are 3 songs we sing each night at Camp Cheley. Every unit sings different songs and you just kind of hear everyone else and pick it up. And then…you want me to just tell you the three songs my unit sang everyday at camp?

SONG 1:

“Peace I ask of thee o River

Peace, Peace,  Peace

When I learn to live serenely

Cares will cease

from the hills I gather courage

visions of the days to be

Strength to lead and faith to follow

all are given unto thee

peace I ask of you oh river

Peace, peace, peace”

SONG 2: We call this one the Chipeta Call.

If you listen one and all

you can hear the chipeta call

you can feel the spirit rise

wheree’er you go may you never forget

that glad day

when we met

and those dear old chipeta girls

we love

so well.

 

Song 3: The last one we sing every night is Taps…You probably know it?

Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky

All is well, safely rest

God is nigh

 

Context of the performance:

The informant shared these camp songs with a table of friends, among them the collector, during a Monday night dinner.

Thoughts on the performance:

It is interesting how the song “Taps” has become such a part of their camp folklore that the informant was almost a little surprised when others at the table indicated recognition.

Also it is interesting that she spoke these traditions in present tense, i.e. “the last one we sing every night”, because she is too old to return as a camper, demonstrates the cyclical nature of these camp songs and rituals.

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