Campfire songs

by Bev Foster

It’s that time of year when we may find our evenings spent around the campfire. It’s a great Canadian summer-time tradition: campfires become the after-dinner entertainment at the cottage, lake, on a camping trip or at summer camps. And very often, singing songs become an integral part of the experience and the memories.

I still remember lots of campfire songs from growing up. Mostly I learned them at camp. Some were silly songs, crazy stories that made me laugh. The hilarity also came in trying to remember lyrics at a speed usually faster than lightening. My all-time favorite silly campfire songs are: The Other Day I Met a Bear, Old Hiram’s goat, Father Abraham, There’s a Hole in the Bucket and Allouette from my Quebec camping days.

And then there are the action songs. I was always fairly spastic at these and marvelled at friends who could sing and do the actions effortlessly. Funny, I don’t remember those tunes at all…

I loved the rounds and part songs like Fire’s Burning and Five Bottles of Pop. I loved them because they were formative impressions and experiences of harmony and the thrill of ensemble music-making for a young would-be musician.

The more contemplative songs like Kumbayah, Blowin’ in the Wind, and Pass It On helped me connect and have feelings with others, my counsellors and mentors. As one person said of Kumbayah: “someone’s singing, laughing, crying, praying……where else do we sing about our emotions and feel safe with it?”

Often when the sparks fly, so does romance…

There’s nothing like a campfire – simple tunes, burning embers, smoky-smelling clothes and marshmallows – no wonder these campfire songs are often ones that we remember longest. The songs were sung in a safe place with no evaluation. There was strength in numbers with that great feeling of group bonding and connectedness. Lots of laughs. Lots of endearing memories. Campfire songs.

Do you have a favorite campfire song?