Tag Archives: summer camp

Secret Summer Camp Chant

Background:

The informant’s mother used to say this phrase as a playful thing to her children. While my informant generally liked this chant for its nostalgiac purposes, her mother used it in a variety of ways at her childhood summer camp. Though I lacked the mind to gather where her mother was from, my informant is originally from California.

Context:

In summer camp, my informant says her mom learned to use the chant as a sort of password in order to get into other campers’ cabins, sit with people during meals, and participate in activities. That being said, I was able to record it during an interview for folklore collection.

Main piece:

“Hi-lo-eenie-meenie-kai-kai-oom-cha-cha-oh-pee-wah-wah-eedie-yidee-yodee-yoo-hoo”

Analysis:

I’m sure that my informant has remembered this piece her whole life because it has been reminiscent of her childhood (and because it sounds good rolling off the tongue), but the purpose it served at her mother’s summer camp allows us, as folklorists, to take a deeper look into the social lives of children. In acting as a password as a sort of key to participating in different social settings, the phrase likely created an ingroup and an outgroup which would have contributed to the children’s social hierarchy. It’s important to note, though, that my informant told me kids at this summer camp would all eventually learn the chant–after a few days of confusion followed by some practice. Thus, it must not have simply been a tool for exclusion, but a right of passage into becoming a recognized camp member.

Main Piece: “Just because there is a goalie in the net, does not mean that you can’t score a goal”

Background: This is a saying that the informant learned from her friends at summer camp when she was in grade school. She attended a co-ed summer camp and as a way to keep themselves entertained, the kids would have crushes and say they were dating just because they held hands on the way to the dining hall one night. Because they were at summer camp and playing sports, the kids would say this proverb as a way to indicate that even if your crush had was in a relationship with some else, it did not mean you were out of luck or didn’t have a shot. 

Context: the informant still uses this proverb in her 20s, but the intention behind the saying has changed. When at summer camp, the campers did not realize in their youth that ‘homewrecking’ is socially unacceptable. They saw were so immersed in the competitive culture of camp that a sports metaphor for the romantic and social elements of life there seemed fitting. Now, the informant uses this phrase as more of a mocking joke. She will say it to one of her friends if they see a cute guy, but he happens to be in a relationship. She does not expect her friend to take the saying seriously or act on the meaning. It is interesting how the significance of this proverb has shifted from adolescence to adulthood. At camp, the kids were genuinely encouraging fighting for their crush, even if it meant hurting someone else; now, we can tease our friends in the same context, but with different intentions.

Thoughts: I have heard this saying outside of the informant’s interview and I have always found it to be humorous and I suppose true, but not something to take seriously. What I find interesting about this proverb, in particular, is that it is dependent on interpretation. The person listening to this word of advice can either hear it as ridiculous and funny or they can take it to heart and cause issues. The impact that his proverb has left the listener as an amused audience member or a person who is about to really damage someone else’s relationship. It is very black and white how this saying is received and depends greatly on who is hearing it- as well as their age, sex, and willingness to take charge versus be passive.

Kajabe Cancan

Informant: So I learned this game as a camper at the summer camp at Hume Lake it was called Kajabe Cancan. It was a game that we were never really taught to play, but it is very easy to figure out and it was a huge thing at this camp. Basically there’s a bunch of people, they usually do it by gender because it is so violent. Everyone stands in a circle, and they hold a piece of rope that is like a foot long between everyone. Inside the circle there is usually like 2-3 trashcans, like the big grey ones. The goal of the game is to be the last one standing. To get people out you had to make people let go of one of their ropes, or hit the trash can with any piece of their body. So basically, you are trying to throw around the person next to you to either rip the rope from their hand or toss them into the middle. It is a great forearm workout, haha. It is such a big thing at this camp that they have a night dedicated to it, like there’s a championship round. They form small groups and the winners of each group play a championship round, and whoever wins gets to sign a Golden trashcan. 

Interviewer: Did you ever win?

Informant: No, I got close though, haha. I made it to the championship round but got out pretty early. 

Interviewer: What happens when you get out?

Informant: Nothing really, you just sit out and join the people watching. You let your hands rest. It gets intense, some people got injured. 

Interviewer: What did this game mean to you?

Informant: Everyone always looked forward to it, it was always a really fun night. This was a church camp, so a lot of churches would go to this camp at once. People would train their campers before going to play because winning was like a huge deal. 

Background

My informant is a good friend and housemate of mine from USC and is a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with a minor in Health Care Studies from San Dimas, CA. She says that a lot of her mannerisms and sayings come from growing up in San Dimas which she describes as being a very small town outside of Los Angeles that feels more midwest than the West coast. She attended summer camps throughout most of her life, starting as a camper and becoming a counselor in high school. 

Context

During our interview the informant let me know about the different games and experiences she had going to many camps growing up as both a camper and a counselor. One of the games that was brought up was Kajabe Cancan. 

Analysis

This game has a very competitive and physical nature, and I believe that it is fairly easy to play as you need participants, trashcans, and pieces of rope. In the context of the church, this folk game potentially served as a mini competition of all of the different churches who combined at this specific camp, gaining pride or brownie points if one of their campers won the championship. 

Summer Camp Taps Tradition

Main Piece:

BO, a junior at USC, shared this story from a Musician Summer Camp he attended. He says, “Like at 10PM everynight we would all have to be in bed in our cabins while they play a military trumpet song called Taps. Everyone was supposed to be extremely quiet and if you made any noise you’d get in trouble. The idea was it was supposed to give everyone in the whole camp a few minutes of silence to reflect on their day.”

Context:

BO is a junior at USC. He attended this music summer camp from ages 12 to 18 and was familiar with lots of its traditions. This piece was taken during a text chat with BO.

Thoughts:

This tradition seems to reflect the discipline that they would teach at the camp. BO explained how they would train a lot during this musician camp, and discipline is a big part of this training. Playing Taps, a military song which is typically played during solemn times, shows how this moment at the end of their day is a time for them to reflect. The formal nature of it also shows how they are training their musicians to be disciplined, and self reflection is important to that.

Imagine you are in a Brick Room

Text:

Informant (R): I also used to do a bunch of riddles and stuff, like while hiking at summer camp, you know?

Collector (J): yeah, yeah, that was fun!

R: My favorite was the brick room one.

J: oh yeah, that one messed with me as a kid, I felt so dumb because I couldn’t figure it out.

R: I mean, it was hard!

J: How did it go again?

R: Ok, so imagine you are trapped in a solid brick room, with no windows, no doors, nothing. You have a single piece of rope and a paper clip and a note that says you must escape the room or you’ll die. How do you get out?

J: I mean, I know the answer, but can you say it?

R: Yeah, so I said imagine you’re in the room. Stop imagining.

Context: Both R and J went to summer camp together. They were recalling old games and riddles for the sake of this collection. R learned this riddle from a camp counselor who repeated this riddle while hiking with younger campers.

Analysis: As other riddles are, this riddle contains insider information for those who know the answer to the riddle. Those who “play the game” of trying to solve it are typically misguided and attempt to find ways out of the room with the rope or other tools. Depending on the performance, the “clues” to escape change, keeping those attempting to solve the riddle on their toes. However, those who know the riddle are quick to remember the keyword “imagine.”