“The Wheels on The Bus”

Earlier this year, I shared this picture of me getting ready to go off to Camp Namanu, a Camp Fire Girls camp I attended one week each summer for six years. The Ford station was used to get me to the school bus which took us to camp. Riding the bus to camp was wonderful since, after all, we were on the way to camp. But also it was heavenly because we sang all the way there, about an hour’s drive.

I see kids on buses now, listening to their phones or texting whatever friend isn’t within arm’s reach. So I am sure that the concept of everyone singing together would seem very alien today. But it was a normal activity for groups of kids when I was in elementary school. Tomorrow, I will write about the ski bus and its songs, but today it is all about camp songs.

Singing on the bus was my first introduction to the songs which we would sing at camp. My first year, of course, I didn’t know any of the songs, but they were easy to pick up, and I knew them for the next year’s ride. My favorite was the one a counselor would begin when she could tell we were almost there. She would begin a loud repetitive song with the straightforward lyrics of “We’re Here Because We’re Here Because We’re Here Because We’re Here!” The link will allow you to open a rendition of the song. Beware–it may get stuck in your head.

Singing at camp after meals was one of camp’s highlights. All campers ate together in a large dining room, probably 200 people in all. After each meal someone would rap their knife on a water glass and begin a song. Then everyone would join in. There were silly songs like “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”( a song which ends with everyone yelling, a perennial favorite.) There were camp specific songs sung about different camp units:”We are the Balagan bold, brave as a two year old, we cry when we get cold” but we all sang together “and in our memory dear to our hearts will be, Camp Namanu’s sure to shine all of the time.” At the very end of camp we sang a very melancholy song about leaving for home.

We rode home in silence. I think no one was very excited about getting back into what was usually a very long, boring summer vacation ahead. And most of us were not glad that “we’re here!”

12 thoughts on ““The Wheels on The Bus”

  1. Thank you for reminding me of Blue Birds/Camp Fire Camp! Such fun, and I absolutely LOVED my Camp Fire Leader…Mrs. Stanfar. She was such a blessing to me…she was a very patient, gentle, loving woman.What memories:-)

    1. My leader, Mrs. Wade, taught me how to bake, a skill I treasure,60 years later. I’m glad to know you had a great leader too. It can make such a difference for a child.

  2. Oh my, how fun that all sounds. We used to sing John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt when I was a kid too. I am on the fence about whether to teach it to my grandchildren. Not any worse than rap and hip-hop, I suppose, with which they like to regale us.

  3. I wanted to sing “the Wheels in the Bus Go round and Round” when I first saw your title! 😊 ! Thanks for sharing…I had a similar experience being sent to overnight camp in the woods Of Pennsylvania. The mess hall, mice trying to invade our cabin, and having to walk a always to the bathroom. It was scary. Too Friday 13th movie to me 😊

  4. (My comment didn’t save from my phone). I don’t know why I have different address logins for my MAC and WordPress App. Oh well!!
    So, I wrote…(if I can remember)..When I saw your post, it reminded me of the song “The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round”. I was singing it for a while. Also, thank you for sharing your camp experience. I had a similar one. My mother shipped me off to a Christian Camp in the woods of Pennsylvania with my cousins. There was a huge mess hall, a cabin with no bathroom, and mice that were trying to invade it for warmth, bats, and bathrooms and showers that were stationed in the woods. It was scary. Too much like Friday the 13th.

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