Off the Record

"Don't mess up the songs of summer campYou may have missed the news that it's no longer politically/religiously correct to sing Kum Ba Yah at summer camp. According to the Associated Press, an 8-year old girl in North Port, Fla. wasn't allowed to sing Kum Ba Yah at a day camp she was attending. Even though she'd practiced the song for a week, talent show organizers said the word Lord violated their ban on religious songs. Lordy, Lordy...I'm glad I'm over forty!My fondest camp memories involve singing, any kind of singing. Whether in the dining hall when the camp director scrambled up on one of the tables (Announcements, announcements, announcements! A terrible death to die, a terrible death to die, a terrible death to be talked to death, a terrible death to die! Announcements, announcements, announcements!). Or first thing in the morning (Rise and Shine) and before every meal (Johnny Appleseed Grace). We sang while hiking and canoeing (The Happy Wanderer, This Land is Your Land and Michael Row the Boat Ashore) or swaying around the evening campfire to such comfy tunes as I Love the Mountains, Tell Me Why, I See the Moon and Day is Done. It always brought sparkles to our eyes. I went to a number of different summer camps, one run by the C.Y.O (Catholic Youth Organization) and the other by the C.F.G (Camp Fire Girls). We pretty much sang the same songs in both places, and organizers/parents/campers never gave them a second thought. Today when I hear one of the tunes from those summers of long ago, I still get a little misty-eyed. Both Camp Blanchet and Camp Killoqua will always have a room in my heart.Which gets me back to the North Port Boys & Girls Club Camp in Florida, where the Lord is totally taboo. According to the club director of this non-sectarian camp, all religious songs should be checked at the door. So be it. But where's it gonna end? What about all those songs of yore? Are today's special-interest groups going to get up in arms over the singing of traditional camp songs by innocent kids? Take a look-see at the campfire songs I warbled as a youth. Who knows, maybe someday they'll be kicked out of camp, too ... along with the Lord.The Ants Go Marching - The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! hurrah! The ants go marching one by one, hurrah! hurrah! The ants go marching one by one... Objecting group: WES (World Entomologists Society). These bug lovers don't like ants portrayed as cartoonish humans who suck their thumbs, tie their shoes, climb trees, shut doors or scratch their hives. Not to mention pick up sticks, go to heaven, shut the gate or scratch one's spine. I say bah hum(bug)! Spokesperson: Paul McCartney, formerly of The Beatles.Bill Grogan's Goat - Was feeling fine, ate three red shirts, right off the line. Bill took a stick, gave him a whack, and tied him to the railroad track. Objecting Group: GOA (Goatherds of America) who last protested the song The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music. The four dues-paying members of this international group are circulating a petition to end this campfire tune about a hungry and abused goat. Spokesperson: Julie Andrews (she always hated The Lonely Goatherd, too).Do Your Ears Hang Low? - Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie 'em in a knot, can you tie 'em in a bow? Can you toss them over your shoulder like a continental soldier? Do your ears hang low? Objecting Groups: PWLEL (People With Large Ear Lobes) and ETOBEJ (Elephants Tired of Big Ear Jokes). Spokesperson: Dumbo.On Top of Spaghetti - Remember this one (sung to the tune of On Top of Old Smoky)? On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed. It rolled off the table, and onto the floor, and then my poor meatball, rolled out of the door. It rolled in the garden, and under a bush, and then my poor meatball, was nothing but moosh! Objecting Group: MBA (Meatballs of America), not to be confused with people who acquire their MBAs at universities. These folks are on a continuous campaign to upgrade the lowly meatball, whether Swedish, Italian or any other variety (except for tofu). Spokesperson: Actor and director Rob Reiner (Meathead of TV's All in the Family fame).What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor? The lyrics in this tune include, Sling 'em in the long boat 'til he's sober and Shave his belly with a rusty razor. OK, maybe we didn't sing this at CYO or CFG camps, but it's a classic round-the-campfire song. Objecting Group: SWOISW (Sailors Who Only Inhale Salt Water). Spokesperson: Actor George Clooney, currently starring in The Perfect Storm.Sue Frause can be reached by e-mail at "

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates