Tag Archives: camp traditions

Camp Merrie Woode Table Prayers

Main Piece: 

Informant- Here are the breakfast, lunch, and dinner prayers. Each is sung in a large group and before eating. 

Breakfast prayer- “ god has created a new day, silver and green and gold, live that the sunset may find us, worthy his gift to hold” 

Lunch prayer- “for health and strength and daily food we give ye thanks o lord”

Dinner- “evening has come the board is spread thanks be to god who gives us bread”

Interviewer- Do you sing the prayer songs outside of camp?

Informant- I usually only say the prayers with other Merrie Woode girls. But when I come home from camp though, I find myself saying those prayers for a while. They are stuck in my head and are a habit. I hold on to what it means beyond just the prayer. It connects me to god but also connects me and my Merrie Woode family as a whole. It reminds me of being in the dining hall with everyone. 

Background: The informant is 18, a counselor at Camp Merrie Woode. She began attending Camp Merrie Woode at age 7 as a camper and returned every summer. Camp Merrie Woode is a catholic all-girls Summer camp. The Merrie Woode community is extremely important to her and represents a family. The prayers are an important connection for her to be thankful for her Merrie Woode family and to God. The prayers hold a religious aspect but also reflect the larger group of loving people that the camp. 

Context: This prayer is sung by a large group of people at mealtime at Camp Merrie Woode. The dining hall is a large room that seats over 200 people. The campers range from 6-13 and counselors are usually young adults. The groups sing the songs together in unison. The camp is in session only during the summer months. The camp is located on a lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

Thoughts: The oral tradition of dinner prayers allows for multiplicity and variation. This version of the dinner prayer is used in the specific Camp Merrie Woode community and creates a unity during the sacred time of prayer. The repetition of these phrases is important because it creates a community that sings and prays in unison. The large group of people participating in the prayer creates a powerful experience with loud voices echoing through the dining hall. This experience is an important aspect of singing prayer. The importance and meaning of the prayer represent the camp community. Even while not at camp, people sing this prayer and are reminded of the strong bond they share with the Camp Merrie Wood community. 

Camp Cheley Traditions

Every night before we go to bed, we have a friendship circle.

Everyone in the unit stands together in the courtyard and we all hook arms or just put our arms on each other’s shoulders Wait, no. Wait, yeah. I guess different units do different things but that’s what we did.

When you’re done singing, we say goodnight and all bow and leave the circle.

So one of the songs is called, I See the Moon. And when you come to camp you kind of just hear what everyone else is singing and you learn it, they don’t write it down or teach you or anything.

And it goes like this (sings):

I see the moon and the moon sees me

The moon sees somebody I’d like to see

So God bless the moon & God bless me

and God bless the somebody I’d like to see.

And then we whisper the peoples’ names we’d like to say goodnight to. So like “Goodnight, Mom.” “Goodnight, Dad.”

Camp Cheley is not a religious camp but the owners are religious. I went back for six summers and even going to camp usually stays within generations, too. Like my best friend is from camp, you know Abby.

She’s what we call a “cheleybaby” because her parents met at Camp. We call those “chomances” you know ‘cus “Cheley” and “romances”.

context of the performance:

The informant told about this ritual and sang that moon song to a table of friends, including myself, at Monday night dinner.

thoughts on the performance:

It was clear from the informant’s delivery how second nature all of this seemed to her from her repeat camp experiences. She even sort of swayed along when she sang the song, without a hint of embarrassment.