Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nature Camp Songs

I've been a camp counselor, a camp instructor, and a camp director, but I must confess that I've never been a camper. All the camp songs that I know I learned from Michelle Balfe Keefer, who taught them to me in preparation for the camp we co-directed in 2001.

I followed her example and included the lyrics to several camp songs (that I deemed to be appropriate for a nature-oriented camp) for my counselors at Earth Camp. But I couldn't get her on the phone to sing the songs to me, and if I can't sing them, I can't expect the counselors to, so I've been scouring the internet for AUDIO files of camp songs.

First of all, the Ultimate Camp Resource pages are certainly enough to keep a camp planner busy, and they have thousands of song lyrics (no audio).

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has an extensive collection of children's songs - WITH AUDIO - several are 'camp songs' and the rest are Old MacDonald kind of stuff. It's been an invaluable resource for me for years, since I didn't really know that many children's songs either (I was able to solve the mystery of the tune of the beeping crib toy that was driving me crazy by going one-by-one through the list. Luckily, the NIEHS list is in alphabetical order and the song was Animal Fair, because it's a really big list.)

The song Gray Squirrel or Brown Squirrel or Squirrel Squirrel is performed on You Tube here - hillarious!

The song Acorn Brown or I'm a Nut is demonstrated on You Tube by Cullen's ABCs, which I just discovered. It appears to be a how-to for parents and teachers of preschoolers. (Kind of wish I'd found that sooner.) But I couldn't help but think I'd heard that tune somewhere before...

The National Wildlife Federation has a page of camp songs WITH AUDIO (you can tell I find that to be an important detail). Specifically, it has Mmm Mmm Went the Little Green Frog One Day.

Then there's the Girl Scout Music site with The Frogs, The Bear Song, Ants Go Marching, and Lion Hunt (I'm hesitant to include that one in a nature camp), and the Latter Day Saints Girls Camp Songs - some of which work for nature camp.

And, if you want to dust off your bell bottoms, tie-dyed shirts, and tambourines, Ally Ally Oxen Free may just be the song for you. I, personally, can't stop laughing through it, so I'm crossing that one off my list.

The Birdie Song is sung on the Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer page. If you've got a coastal site, then the other songs may be of interest to you, as well.

I've found a few versions of Peanut Butter (And Jelly), but none quite so funky as the one sampled here.

Now I'm off to practice so I'll be in tune for my staff training tomorrow morning. Happy Camping!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Making Ice Cream at Summer Camp

Here's the recipe per pair of campers:

1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon flavoring
1/2 cup rock salt
2 cups ice
1 quart-size freezer bag
1 gallon-size freezer bag
4 full sheets newspaper
1 strip of duct tape

(I am reversing the assembly line this year, so instead of the counselors delivering the ingredients to each pair of campers, the pairs will go around to stations to receive their stuff.)

Table 1: No counselor needed. Pairs pick up one of each type of freezer bag.

Table 2: One counselor pours milk into quart-size bag. One counselor pours ice into gallon-size bag.

Table 3: One counselor adds sugar to milk. One counselor adds salt to ice.

Table 4: One or more counselors add desired flavor to milk and sugar. (I'm using baking extracts from The same extracts are used in a scent sense game earlier in the day. The extracts relate back to the idea that plants are food sources for people. We have peach, lemon, blackberry, spearmint, and coconut, because they are all clear and cannot be identified by color - which would spoil the scent game.)

Table 5: One counselor inserts milk bag into ice bag, seals outer bag, and passes to one counselor who wraps the bag in newspaper like a Subway sandwich (I knew that job experience would come in handy somewhere), and passes to one counselor who tapes the package. (These tasks can be done by one person if there are not enough instructors, counselors, or chaperones to fill all the stations.)

The pairs shake their packages vigorously, trading off as one tires. After 10 minutes, campers can unwrap the packages, extract the ice cream bag from the saltwater bag, and split the portion into two bowls.

There are science lessons that accompany this activity at, and chemistry, if you need to justify making ice cream.

Here's something I think you might find useful:

Regular bags of granulated sugar are 4 pounds, which works out to about 9 1/2 cups, so each bag serves 19 pairs of campers.

Regular boxes of rock salt weigh 4 pounds. 4 pounds of rock salt = 6 1/2 cups, so each box serves 13 pairs of campers.

You can find both granulated sugar and rock salt in larger packages, and buying in bulk is usually more economical. Remember, y'all aren't eating the salt. It isn't actually coming into contact with food, so it doesn't really have to be "ice cream" rock salt. The dirty-looking street salt works just as well, and is even cheaper.

I'll have to post a follow-up to let you know whether or not the campers liked peach, lemon, blackberry, spearmint, and coconut flavored ice creams. (I do have vanilla extract in reserve just in case).