Monday, July 23, 2012

The Magic Of A Camp Song

As August approaches, my thoughts wander back to times when I have had the unique pleasure of sharing in a camp fire sing along.  Although I never actually went to summer camp, my extended family shared their love of the old camp songs around a fire on many camping trips and I did also get to sing them at day camp activities here and there.

There is just something wonderful about those songs.  Some are silly; some are energetic.  And then there is always that moment when things start to slow down for the night and a quiet beauty takes over.  Those are my favorites.

Songs that are powerful in a quiet way leave such an indelible mark on us all.  And hearing them sung in the dark by young innocent voices is pure magic. 

I remember my grandfather remarking many times that there was nothing like hearing his girls sing.  He had all daughters, six of them- all involved in Camp Fire USA.  I can only imagine what that must of sounded like.

Today, I am thinking back to a time when I shared my favorite camp song with a girl that my husband and I would take care of on most weekends when her parents would travel for business.  She called us her 'part time parents'.  We took this girl everywhere with us and truly included her in our lives.  She really was like our 'weekend daughter'.  My husband and I were young and newly married and needed money, so we were happy to take on some extra weekend work, but as you might guess it wasn't really so much work at all.  We loved being with this girl and looked forward to our time with her.

The girl lived in a huge mansion of a house on the water and you could see ships' lights from her bedroom window at night.  That is where, every time I tucked her into bed, I would sing the Barges Camp Song  to her until she fell asleep.  The Lyrics go like this:


Out of my window looking in the night,
I can see the barges flickering light.
Starboard shines green and a port of ruby red,
I can see the barges just ahead. 

Barges, I would like to go with you,
I would like to sail the ocean blue. 

Barges, have you treasure in your hold,
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold?

Out of my window looking in the night,
I can see the barges' flickering light.
Silently flows the river to the sea,
As the barges too go silently. 

(Click on this link to hear a lovely version.)

I haven't sung that song to her in at least 10 years, but the memory is so strong and nearly tangible even now.  It seems that camp songs are something truly special no matter where or why we sing them.


  1. Last year, I volunteered for a week-long Girl Scout camp. Which is probably weird, since I only have boys...but one of my favorite things was hearing them sing along the trails. The youngest ones, all the way up tot he high school girls. It was beautiful.

  2. One of my favorite things about summer camp was the singing. We sang after all meals and around the campfire at night. Camp always equaled music in my mind. I loved it.


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