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Church Camp Songs – Choosing the Best

When I think of church camp songs, I tend to think of those songs that are bible oriented or African-American spirituals. Actually, at the church camps I have attended, they pretty much like to sing what everybody else likes to sing: silly songs, folk songs, old time songs and other traditional campfire songs. In addition, they also like to sing upbeat, religious songs.

At church camps, I find that whoever is running things likes to be as organized as possible, so usually singing around the campfire is not left to chance. The church campfires that I have been to usually included several church camp songs interspersed with stories. Some of the stories were fun and some were more spiritual in nature. Most of the time, the campfire would finish with one of the ecclesiastical leaders, like a priest, minister or bishop teaching one of the stories, parables or characteristics of Jesus. I am a Christian, so this article is from my viewpoint. If you are of another religion besides Christian, you could teach about your religion and/or prophets. All of the religious songs I refer to in this article are based in a Christian background. I really don’t know of any campfire songs from other religions, but if you know of some that I could include, please email me and let me know. I would much appreciate it.

Below are listed some of the most popular church camp songs: Amazing Grace: This is one of the most beautiful religious songs I know. It is easy to play on the guitar with only three chords. It has one of the most recognized melodies. The song has even more meaning if you know the story behind it. The story is about John Newton, the composer of the song. It is an inspiring story. If you ‘google’ John Newton or Amazing Grace, you will find several resources. There is also a movie called Amazing Grace about John Newton.
Down by the Riverside: Like most African American Spirituals, this is a pretty easy song to learn. Many of the lines are repeated, which makes memorization easy. In most spirituals there is only a difference of two or three words between verses. This makes it easy to learn several verses quite easy.
Peace Like a River: This is another spiritual that is easy to learn.
I Love the Mountains: Even though this song does not talk about religion or God, I still consider it a great church camp song. The reason I say this is because it talks about nature and all the beautiful things that God has created. It’s pretty hard to sing this song without feeling gratitude and thankfulness for the many beautiful things God has created for us to enjoy.
The Happy Wanderer: This song kind of goes hand in hand with the previous one. It’s just a happy, feel good song about the beauties of God’s creations.
Kumbaya: Kumbaya is probably the all time most popular church camp song ever. It’s easy to sing, easy to learn and just about everybody knows it.
He’s Got the Whole World: Here is another African American spiritual that is probably a close second in popularity to Kumbaya.
You Can’t Get to Heaven: This is a fun song to sing, even though I’m sure you won’t be barred from heaven just because you’re wearing roller skates. If your kids take it seriously, you might want to tell them that if they die with roller skates on or in a rocking chair, they can still go to heaven. Who knows; if they believe they can’t get to heaven with roller skates, maybe they’ll be more careful! This is one of those songs where you could make up your own verses.
Peace Like a River: This is another one of my favorites. Easy to teach, easy to learn and easy to play on the guitar. It’s also a very peaceful song if it’s done right. This could be done slowly or medium tempo.

If you are looking for a particular church camp song that isn’t here, try asking your pastor, priest or other church leader to help you. They will probably have some ideas for songs that are suitable for your denomination. If you decide to do hymns with guitar accompaniment, you might have to transpose to get it into an easier key. A lot of hymns are in flat keys, which are harder to play on guitar. Transpose it into a sharp key like G, D, A, or E.

If you know of any church camp songs or scout songs that should be on this list, or included in The Great American Campfire Songbook, please email me and let me know.

Good luck with your campfire singing; and Remember to have fun!
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Sun, January 15 2012 » Travel And Leisure

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