A Word on Singing at Camp

Dec 21, 2023 | Adam Trufant

Our camp culture is absolutely inundated with musical moments. The dining halls at CKC are full of song on a daily basis. This is a treasured part of our culture. It is precisely through song that we communicate who we are. Not just so our campers can learn how to be chosmen and kahdaladies, but this is one of the principal ways culture is communicated and passed down from generation to generation the world over. This is how we learn that we belong to a specific family, nation, and people.

That might sound like a tall order for a summer camp, but when it comes to sharing building blocks of human identity in song, the unique and undistracted space of camp is a beautiful place to do this! Through songs, we introduce the deeper questions of life. We introduce an understanding of human freedom in songs like “Timshel” by Mumford and Sons, we share light-hearted folk tradition through “The Big Rock Candy Mountains”, we share moments of worship and humility when we sing Anne Trufant’s original rendering of the “Our Father”. Depth, laughter, and openness to God are themes we celebrate when selecting songs for our song books, and I’ve found that these songs stick with our campers. In a civilization that is quickly moving toward screen dependency and instant access to information, the practice of memorization is generally not as prominent as it used to be. Singing songs that help paint a picture of what is good, true, and beautiful in the world is one small step towards forming good, true, and beautiful souls who eagerly promote the good and reach for virtues over vices.

“You are what you eat” as the old adage goes. This would apply to what you listen to, as well. If we consume music that is base and morally degrading, this can negatively impact our relationships, our thoughts, and it can shape our world view in a way that is not founded on the fundamental hope provided by faith in our loving God. At CKC, we aim to sing songs that don’t shy away from substantial topics but highlight the beauty and gift of our humanity and the treasure of our individual choice. Songs that reveal our capacity to do real good in the world and to trust in the power of God’s goodness despite the brokenness of the world are welcome here. We sing those songs that buoy up generation after generation of listeners to endure through suffering, to help our neighbors, to enter into God’s patience and love for the world, and also the silly, lighthearted tunes that lift the spirit and give us courage to enjoy our lives as fully as possible.

Songs are important. They can teach us truths and give us a language that could help us build our lives on a firm foundation. They can also lead us astray if their content is untrue, impure, or simply a distraction from other more worthwhile things. We pray the songs we sing at camp can edify our campers and staff and give all of them uplifting songs to sing their entire lives long, songs that anchor our hearts in good things, bring smiles to our faces, and remind us that we belong to a people.

As long as the old timbers of Kahdalea and Chosatonga stand, we will hold opportunities for our extended family of campers, staff, and friends to return and bellow these songs around fires and under stars.