camp songs

A Few of My All-Time Favorite Camp Songs


Camp Songs

It’s almost time for summer camp. Cub Day Camps will be starting soon. Scout troops will be going to resident camp. So I figured I’d put out a few of my favorite camp songs. A couple of reasons for this: one, you can never know enough, the old ones will get old, and you’ll want some new ones; and two, a lot of parents wind up at camp not knowing any at all. Next, I’ve put videos of camp songs being sung and lyrics, as I find that just including the lyrics without the music isn’t particularly helpful.

There’s a power to music in the mind. Music ties memories together. What was the difference between Star Wars and every other bad 1970s space opera? What made Jaws a hit, even though the mechanical shark didn’t actually work?

It was, in each case, an unforgettable John Williams score. I know when I hear a certain song, my mind can instantly go back to the first time I heard the song. Music has a way of making us feel, and any good camping experience should lead us to laugh, feel, and think. It connects memories in our heads – the sounds, the smells, the thoughts and feelings of when we first heard the song.

So not only are great camp songs fun, but they plant connections that later in life will remind now-grown children of the great times they had when they were kids. They’ll remember the good times, and the great example that you set for them. They’ll remember the normally serious adult being confident enough to make a complete scene of themselves. And they’ll be reminded of all the other great lessons in character that you taught them.

Looking for ideas on campfire kits? You can click here for that article.


Since these songs are sung in camps all over the world, they will develop variations over time. You may not hear or read the exact lyrics that you’re familiar with. I make no claim as to which lyrics are 100% correct, though I have my opinions, which are always right.


When I was a scout, this was my Scoutmaster’s go-to song. It’s extremely silly, and works for ages 5+. For more fun, repeat the song twice, going faster each time. Click here for lyrics.

Herman the Worm

I’ve heard this song more than a few times, I think I like this version quite a bit. There are others that include the ingestion of relatives, which can be a little bit problematic. But it’s a silly song, with interesting imagery. Here are the lyrics.

Mrs. O’Leary (Hot Time in the Ol’ Town Tonight)

A song with historical context that can be varied in volumes by verse. You can vary it up by mixing up the volumes of the verses. Click for lyrics.

My Bonnie

At camp, this is an action song. But the actions are simple. On the B’s you stand up or sit down alternately. Great song for younger scouts…

Not so great for older adults with knee problems. They can probably sit this one out. Click for lyrics.

There is no way you’ll sing this song with as much soul as Mr. Ray Charles. Don’t even try. Just have fun with it.

Father Abraham

A good song when you’ve got a little bit of space, and a lot of energy you need burned off. Click here for lyrics.

Rise and Shine

A highlight morning camp song. This was my song for years at camp. It is, however, possibly the most exhausting song to lead. As someone who’s led this song many times, here’s a hint, make yourself an index card with the verse titles on it – because it can be easy to lose your place in this marathon of a song. Here’s the lyrics.

Your Favorite Camp Songs?

Did I miss your favorite? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear them.

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Photo by woodleywonderworks

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