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April 18, 2017


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In my former life I spent 20 years in the kids/family music business. I have many thoughts for you. I don't know how old the Girl Scouts in your group will be. 8? 11-12? 14? Or a mixture?

The first thing that comes to mind is This Land Is Your Land: classic, catchy, a chorus that's fun enough to sing over and over again but easy enough to pick up quickly if you've somehow not heard it before.

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt is fun, energetic, and good for inhibitory control when kids are a little overenthusiastic. You repeat the whole song about 5 times. The first time is entirely at a normal volume. On each subsequent time you sing the first ¾ of the song a little more quietly ("John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/His is name is my name too/Whenever we go out, the people always shout/There goes") and the last line at top volume each time ("John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/La la la la la la la"). By the time you get to the 4th repetition the quiet section is a whisper and on the last round you simply mouth it silently. The fun of everyone coming back in on the last line in loud and rowdy unison never gets old.

If the kids are a little older, Stand By Me and Lean On Me are both pretty easy to sing and learn but feel a little more sophisticated to sing, and both have lyrics that foster a sense of togetherness and unity especially when sung in the dark around a campfire toward the end of the night when everyone is getting a little sleepy.

I'm sorry to say I agree with you about Dem Bones. It's a really fun song but I don't know that I as a white lady would feel comfortable leading it in 2017. I love Green Grow the Rushes Ho and if the leader and maybe a couple of ringers know it really well I think you can get away with it because everyone can come in on the chorus even if they get lost in the complicated parts.

For inspiration I suggest perusing the song titles on the kids albums of Bill Harley, David Grover, The Neilds (who also have some grownup albums so make sure you're looking at the ones meant for kids), Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem and of course Pete (Seeger) and Woody (Guthrie).

Feel free to get in touch if you want more of my many many thoughts on getting young people to sing together :-)

Girl guide songs I remember singing: Kum ba ya, Ging gang gooli, This land is your land, Day is done, Frere Jacques, TIRO, Alice the camel, 10 green bottles, Edelweiss, Do your ears hang low, I love to go a-wandering, If you're happy and you know it, My bonnie lies over the ocean, She'll be coming round the mountain, Shoo fly, Sarasponda, Hokey pokey, O my darling Clementine, What shall we do with a drunken sailor, Auld lang's syne, The gypsy rover, And the cat came back.

Definitely yes to rounds, and maybe have quite a few songs ready so you can see what appeals -the funny ones, the melodic ones etc. I love Green grow the rushes o, too, and also On Ilkley moor bar tat. All the best!

And Dayo, daylight come and me wanna go home, Swing low sweet chariot, In the jungle the mighty jungle, and He's got the whole world in his hands (can be fun with lots of made up verses)

Funny how a song can flood you with memory!

What about "Make new friends, but keep the old?" (I can't remember the name of the song.) Also, we used to sing Skidamarinky-dinky-dink at Girl Scout camp, and also Swimming, Swimming in my Swimming Pool.

We sing Sipping Cider here with great gusto, so go for it.

LOVING these comments! Thanks, all!!

I spent many summers at Girl Scout camps, and wrote down the songs we sang in a little looseleaf binder. Found it recently and was shocked at how many of the songs are racist or sexist or misogynist or just plain questionable. We were all a lot less conscious back then.

My daughters' troopmates love An Austrian went Yodeling and The Quartermaster's Store.

Fried Ham. A Boom Chick-a-Boom. Everywhere We Go.

For slow songs, Moon on the Meadow, Silver Castle, Land of the Silver Birch, A Gypsy Rover (if you find "gypsy" problematic change it to "wand'ring" or something). I love One Day but that's a hard one to teach solo since the response is a different tune than the call.

Oh, and You Are My Sunshine is surprisingly satisfying to sing, especially if anyone can do a little easy harmony, and you can tell the girls that it was written by Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis, about his horse Sunshine.

It's been fun to read song titles and have melodies pop into my head from way way back.

One of my favorite Girl Scout songs is a mellow one that I haven't seen mentioned yet: Barges.

Don't forget "dip, dip and swing!"

A lot of my old favorites have already come up. I'll add the round we used to do: "one bottle pop two bottle pop.../don't throw your junk in my backyard my backyard my backyard.../fish and chips and vinegar...vinegar and pop!" We used to roar that one around the campfire; sometimes I sing it with/at my son. ;-)

I never knew this was a Donovan (?) song until decades later, but when I was a very wee sprout, at my very first sleep-away, we once did a round version of "happiness runs in a circular motion" (I think). My wee sprout self adored it.

We used to do "Hey, no, nobody home, no meat, no drink, nor money have I none; yet shall I be merry" as a round on bus rides.

John Denver and the Muppets once did a campfire round version of "O how lovely is the evening."

Oh good heavens, I just went to the scout songs site, and had a big FLASH of memory. Did anybody else march around Girl Scout campgrounds roaring,

"We are the Brownies!
Mighty mighty Brownies!
Everywhere we go-oh!
People want to know-oh
Whoooo we are,
sooooo we tell them:

It never really ended. We just sang it until we couldn't sing anymore, and dropped out one by one... Maybe that was the point: wear the troop out with all the marching around and singing, and we'll all sleep better at night!

How about the Noah's Ark song -- "Rise and shine and give God that glory, glory"? You can shorten it or lengthen it depending on whether you sing the chorus between each verse, or treat it as "through-composed." ;-)

(There's also the one about the unicorns and how they didn't make it onto the Ark, unlike "your green alligators, your long-necked geese, humpty-backed camels and your chimpanzees"...but I find it sad.)

I love 'O how lovely'. Other fab rounds are COFFEE and Dona Nobis Pacem.

For call and response, "The Green Grass Grew All Around" is fun, too. And one of my favorite calming songs (I think of it almost as a lullaby) is "This Pretty Planet," by Tom Chapin. It's easy to find on YouTube, and while it's meant to be a round, it also sounds pretty sung altogether.

Haven't read the other responses yet but wanted to post quickly. I feel the same as you do about Dem Bones...and I'm also sad about it. I sing Sippin Cider with Tay in the car. He loves it.

I saw the first poster mention This Land is Your Land. What about If I had a Hammer? I think it's fun and pretty easy.

What about the...shhh....YOU MIGHT WAKE UP THE BIRDIES! song? Also go look up the Campfire Song from SpongeBob. It's SO fun!

Lastly, one you taught me with Eenie meeny meeny miney mo. Catch a rubble rubble by his toe and if he hollers hollers hollers let him go...

Thank you! I had lots of years of Girl Scout camp, but now that I'm leading an American Heritage Girls troop so many years later, I'm finding that my repertoire is not quite big enough. I'm excited to go through this list of suggestions more thoroughly.

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