Of course things were not always as stressful as the old Songfest had become. Music has always been a gentle, unifying, touching aspect of our shared life here at camp.
Lullabyes and lilting melodies
One thing I learned was that back in the day, the Alleghany Singers were all counselors. They met after dinner on the Cottage porch to practice, and sang on Sunday nights, after Honor Girl and Silver A campfires, and following Banquet.
According to Joan “Bubbles” Jost, “It was a great way to calm the campers down after all the excitement.”
She said they sang very different music in the 50s than is often done today, though as you know, my hope is to really revive the long-standing camp songs that have been sung across the generations.
Though not all our resources are easy to find — Bubbles mentioned a large, green, three-ring binder with loads of lyrics and musical accompaniment that seems to be in hiding right now, we do have a passion for archiving and are working on camp history all the time (see our blog post about making photo albums by the decade).
In the past, camp had a piano in the Play Hall which was often played by longtime Junior Camp counselor Billie Bryant, among others, which helped singers to stay on key. We had to have the piano moved out this year as the elements at camp take a toll on instruments stored here over the years, and a piano is too unwieldy to move in and out each year.
We do use a keyboard from time to time on site today but there’s also something wonderful about a counselor-singer humming that first note and then everyone coming in a capella with the note, too, and then the song starting from there.
Our songs are your songs
A popular song from the past at camp was, “Sing we the praise of August skies” and “It’s Alleghany,” which is the same tune as “It’s West Virginia.”
Any alum who wish to share songs they recall from the past, please feel free to share your comments on the blog page or e-mail me with your thoughts.
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls