Spring is here and Girl Guide camping season is upon us! Out come the sleeping bags, the dippy bags, the sit-upons, the camp blankets and flashlights! All over Canada at the moment, girls from the youngest Spark to the oldest Ranger are going camping. As the sky begins to dim and the stars come out – they will be sitting around the campfire raising their voices in song!
But what will they be singing?
Every Girl Guide, adult and girl alike, has their favorite song that they love to sing. Across Canada and the Guiding world song lyrics vary, wording changes and even tunes differ… but we all sing! We sing before meals, we sing while we hike, we sing in the shower, we sing while we work and we even sing for those lost items at camp …but the best singing is around the campfire.
Have you ever watched how a campfire grows and dies down? It starts from a tiny spark, the flames leap and grow until they reach their peak and then slowly start to die down and you are left with embers. Just like that campfire, the songs that you sing around it follow the same pattern. You begin with a slow small song and slowly build up speed and excitement with every song that you sing until once again you reach the peak of your campfire. From there, you slowly start to wind down and end with a slow closing song and taps.
Here are the basic steps girls and Guiders can use for planning the ultimate campfire:
- Opening Songs…
- A campfire opening is just that – an opening or start to your campfire. You can start out with a poem, a few words of greeting, some fun way of lighting your campfire or you can jump right into an opening song or songs. These songs include ones like “Fire’s Burning” or “Tall Trees,” they also include Unit opening songs like the “Brownie song”.
- Slow Songs…
- Your slowly starting to build up your campfire. These songs are slower and quieter in nature. They tend to be rounds, folk songs and ballads.
- Medium Fast Songs…
- Your campfire is now building up speed. These songs are quicker and a bit louder. They tend to be silly songs, repeat after me songs and fun songs.
- Rowdy Songs…
- You have now reached the peak of your campfire. These are the loudest, most lively songs of the campfire! They tend to be stand up action songs.
- Medium Fast Songs…
- Now your campfire is slowly winding down, so your songs once again start to slow down.
- Skits and Stories…
- Now that everyone is once again sitting down around the campfire and has caught their breath, it’s time to bring on the skits, improve games, cheers, stories and legends! You can have preplanned ones with props or impromptu fun.
- Slow Songs…
- Your campfire now is slowing right down now and your songs are doing the same.
- Closing Songs…
- Your campfire has now come to its end and died down. These songs can include slow closing songs like “Linger” and “Say Why.” They can also include other Units closing songs like the Sparks closing.
- Taps (or Unit Closing)…
- This is your closing for the campfire. It can once again include a poem, saying, or a farewell greeting, but it should include taps or your Unit’s closing song. Remember to stand and be respectful while singing your closing and to leave the campfire by taking one step in and two steps back once dismissed.
Once you have planned your spectacular Girl Guide campfire, here are some tips to keep in mind during the event:
- Have one girl or Guider ready to lead each song and make sure they are familiar with it.
- For rounds make sure to have one strong singer for each section.
- Why not use non-Guiding songs in your campfire? Nursery rhymes and simple children’s songs are great, especially since everyone knows them!
- If you are learning a new song – make sure to have the lyrics printed out and don’t be afraid to turn it into a repeat after me song! (You sing a line and get everyone to repeat it.)
- Have printed lyrics for the non-action songs – and remember, people can share, but when it’s dark out groups of three will probably be as large as you want to go.
- Have some easy cheers, skits, improve games or stories printed out and ready to go (even if you’re letting your girls create these before hand – printed ones will give them ideas and a great start!)
- Remember a spare lighter and flashlight!
Finally remember to have fun and enjoy the campfire glow!
By guest blogger Jenni Halladay, a Girl Guide lifer who grew up Guiding. She is married to a wonderful Girl Guide/Scouting supportive husband and has a wonderful Spark daughter and a newborn son who will be a Cub one day. Because her family moves so much due to work, she has been part of 11 Districts & 8 Areas over her 27 year Guiding Career. She has held many Guiding hats, and at the moment she is a Spark Guider for her daughters Spark Unit in Williams Lake, BC (Big Sky District, Rivers North Area). Jenni is kindly sharing her Campfire planner with us.