Camp Songs, Folk Songs

A folkloric analysis of the song repertoire of American summer camps from the 1950s through the ’70s.
This volume originated in the ’70s as a manuscript, written when the author was a recent graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, with a doctorate in American studies and a concentration in folklore. Although her career ultimately led her away from academia, she has decided to publish it to show what she calls “a tradition in its final flowering”: the American tradition of summer-camp songs. She divides the book into five sections: “Folklore,” “Age Group Influences on Repertoire,” “Camp Philosophy Influences on Repertoire,” “Gender Influences on Repertoire” and “Midwestern Influences on Repertoire.” She also includes photographs, an extensive list of participants, archives, camps and references, and the publishing histories of the 19 songs she uses as case studies. The chapters discuss the songs’ use of humor, how children acquire language from songs (and develop motor skills, for songs that use gestures), musical styles, and other concepts. Each chapter looks specifically at one song that illustrates a theme, along with variant lyrics, but not, surprisingly and disappointingly, the sheet music. That said, Averill provides a treasure trove of raw data about American summer-camp music in the mid-20th century, and she effectively illustrates how the songs moved seamlessly between musical genres. She points out the influences of 19th century religious “camp” revivalism, European immigrants and their tradition of communal singing, the songs of Tin Pan Alley and World War I, and the folk revival of the 1960s. The book also demonstrates how singing was used to foster communal feelings among campers; at other times, it allowed them to express subversive humor, thus pushing adolescent boundaries. However, much of the information in this book is provided in haphazard order, regardless of relevance. As a result, although the author certainly knows her folklore, some of the discussions may be difficult for laymen to follow, as larger themes often get lost in a shuffle of names and references that may mean little to casual readers. (A minimal index is available, but on a separate website.)

A dense resource that may be most useful for folklorists, folk-music scholars, and historians of Americana.

Pub Date: May 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493179114

Page Count: 714

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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