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Summer Camp Songs from Camp Songo - 1947-1954
with DMJ

Songs of Camp Songo

1947-1954

 

         During the summers of 1947 through 1954, I was a camper at Camp Songo, an all-boys camp in Casco, Maine. All of the campers and some of the counselors were Jewish. We played a lot of baseball, basketball as well; we swam and canoed; we did most everything that campers of that era did.  But more than almost anything else, we sang.

 

         We sang in the dining hall, at camp assemblies, around the campfire, at flag raising and lowering, on day hikes and overnight camping trips, on bus trips to compete with other camps.  It seems as though we were always singing something.  Much of what we sang drew from traditional folk songs or popular songs of the day, but quite a few other songs were unique to the camp; those are the ones I’ve noted here.

 

         Many of those unique songs were sung during Color War, a 3-4 day period at the end of the camp season, which was unquestionably a camp highlight. The entire camp would be divided into two teams representing the camp colors (originally green and gray, later green and gold), and would compete in nonstop daily activities ranging from bunk inspection to fishing to finding the rival team’s colored hatchet somewhere on the camp property.  Passions and emotions during Color War ran high – once to the point where counselors on different teams got into a physical fight.

 

         The culmination of Color War, perhaps not surprisingly, was the Song and Cheer contest held on the last night. I remember these contests well; they were intense and dramatic; I only wish they could have been recorded for posterity.

 

         But for some not-entirely-clear reason, the lyrics to these Color War and other camp songs have stayed with me. More recently, some of the lyrics have appeared full-blown in my consciousness, unbidden and unannounced.  And since hardly anyone else I know remembers those lyrics, I thought I should write them down and entrust them to some archive, such as Documenting Maine Jewry, so that they will not be forever lost to memory.

          

         But why is this important?   Why set down these lyrics at all?  It may have less to do with the lyrics of the songs themselves – they are certainly not high art  -- but more to do with their place in American and Jewish cultural history of the time.

 

         For I went to camp directly after World War II, in the shadow of the Holocaust.  The Holocaust itself was never mentioned at my camp; our camp was entirely secular. (We had “Services” on Friday nights, but with no explicit Jewish content.)  We were Jews of a different kind:  mostly sheltered middle-class city kids, mostly mild-mannered and obedient, growing up in a new assimilationist America, where religious identity would be less of a defining characteristic.

 

         Yet mild-mannered though we were, our camp song lyrics were saturated with competitive, aggressive, and even violent imagery. The protagonist in these songs typically goes off to battle and strives unceasingly to smite the foe, vanquish all enemies, and triumph in glory.  Through these lyrics, we campers were encouraged to march, smash, roar defiance, shatter mountains, make them quake, scalp ‘em, be out for gore, bring the bacon home or bust, fight come what might, and never yield.

 

         All these values and behaviors were widely at variance with those of our upbringing -- for we were gentle and protected Jewish children who for the most part would remain that way.  But at least during camp summers, we would become young Jewish Warriors; and with that mentality, carried forward into adulthood, the tragedy of the Holocaust would never happen again.

 

         This interpretation is admittedly speculative.  But since there are few accidents in history, it seems worth considering.   What do you think, readers? Take a look at the song lyrics following, and judge for yourself.

 

                              ~~  Bill Berkowitz

                                                                                               Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu

                                                                                               Arlington, Massachusetts

                                                                                                January, 2017                       

 

 

About the Songs

 

         The songs following are given in alphabetical order, generally by first line, as the songs did not commonly have formal titles.  Songs # [to be inserted] were Color War songs, while Songs # [to be inserted] were other songs unique to the camp. High on a Hill over Pleasant and Songo We Love, were, as I recall, the camp’s unofficial alma maters.

 

         Lyrics are given as best I remember them. The melodies for the songs, not reproduced here, were almost surely not original. Several were modeled after existing college fight songs.  The original source of the song is noted when I knew it; in most cases, though, the original sources are not known to me.

 

Across the Campus

 

Across the campus you can hear a mighty roar

The Gray Team, the Gray Team

They're marching to the fight as they have done before

They roar defiance to the world

 

And all the loyal rooters will begin to cheer

The Gray Team, the Gray Team

With might and main we’ll fight again for cherished victory

Victory will surely soon be ours

 

For Songo’s glory

And the honor of the men who wear the gray

For Songo’s glory

We’ll fight you fair and play you square in any game you know

And in the sunset, you’ll hear our mighty cry of victory

Oh, when you hear our call it means the battle’s just begun

And when you hear our cry it means the battle’s just been won

 

For Songo’s glory

And the honor of the men who wear the gray

 

[Cheer:]

Gray Team, Gray Team, watch us as we go

Gray Team, Gray Team, watch us smite the foe

U rah rah, U rah rah, U big Gray Team rah

 

For Songo’s glory

And the honor of the men who wear the gray.


 

Charge, Green, and Take the Field

                                                            [Tune: University of Michigan fight song]

 

Now shatter the mountain with challenge cry

Now shatter the mountain with challenge cry

The foe runs to shelter for they must die

By moonlight the battle begins

Green!

 

All advance with bright eyes gleaming

Battle cry and chargers streaming

Charge, Green, and take the field

This is a Green Team day

 

Hush now, they're coming nearer

Rush now, for honor dearer

Charge, Green, and take the field

This is a Green Team day

 

To victory, ride

For Songo’s pride

For Songo’s pride

We’ll fight, fight, fight with all our might

 

 

(And then we’ll)

All advance with bright eyes gleaming

Battle cry and chargers streaming

Charge, Green, and take the field

This is a Green Team day.


 

For It’s Up with Camp Songo Boys

 

 

For it’s up with Camp Songo boys

Down with the foe

Old Camp Songo’s out for a victory                                                                           

We’ll shoot our men around the foemen’s line

Hot times are coming up, O brother mine

 

For it’s up with Camp Songo boys

Down with the foe

Old Camp Songo triumphs today

And the yell of the foe

Will echo their woe

As we fight on for Camp Songo.

 

For the Fight We’ve Got the Spirit

 

The clarion calls:

Men of Gray Team, forward, march!

 

For the fight we’ve got the spirit

For the war we’ve got the men

For the rest we’ve got our level best

So the Gray Team will win again

 

’47, ’48, now again in ‘49

Every year, you can tell,

It’s the same old story

Green will try, Green will fall, as we fight for glory

Winning is a habit

Gray will never lose

 

Sound the call: The Gray Team marches forward

Flaunt your Gray Team banners high

Count the cadence: Let us hear your voices:

Sound off – One, Two!

Sound off – Three, Four!

Count the points to victory

Add ‘em up!

 

Gray is honor

Gray is courage

Gray Team has the highest ideals

Our men are upon the fields

We’re ready for the first punch

Ready for the last punch

 

Ready… For the fight we’ve got the spirit

For the war we’ve got the men

For the rest we’ve got our level best

So the Gray Team will win again

Oh, the Gray Team will win again.


 

Gold Team Cheer

 

Gold Team, go all the way

Gold Team, never delay

For you gotta get it going if you're gonna make a showing

So go go go go Gold

 

Gold Team, we’re gonna win

Gold Team, never give in

We’re gonna fight tonight

We’re gonna do all right

So go go go go Gold.

High on a Hill over Pleasant

 

 

High on a hill over Pleasant *

At the camp we all love so dear

We're building a solid foundation

For the coming year

Pride in our camp and our campus

Founded many years ago

Long live our name

Camp that we claim

Hail to Camp Songo.

 

___________________

 

       *  The reference is to Pleasant Lake, on which the camp fronted.


 

Into the Fight

 

 

Into the fight, let's go Seniors   (?)

Into the fray, let’s go men

Give it your best for old Songo

And the green and gray will win again

 

Always win

Never lose

For we've got the kind of team that makes the news

In the state of Maine we’re best

Far ahead of all the rest

S-E-N-I-O-R-S   (?)

 

(So) into the fight, let's go Seniors   (?)

Into the fray, let’s go men

Give it your best for old Songo

And the Green and Gray will win again.

Invictus

 

                                   

The Gray Team goes to the battlefield

And we'll win

Never give in

Our banners high

We’ll never say die

Victory will be our battle cry

Forward go

Vanquish the foe

Our stalwart men

Will triumph again

Gray Team

Gray Team

Invictus.

It’s the Green Team Marching to Victory

 

It’s the Green Team marching to victory

Proud array of lofty majesty

And their banners wave triumphant

For the day rests with the Green

 

Green warriors will never yield

They’ll win on every field

For they’ll fight

With might

And overcome the enemy 

 

When the combat comes to a mighty close

And the field is strewn with conquered foes

It’s the Green army that goes marching on

Triumphant, to victory.

Marching on, to the Fray

 

Marching on

To the fray

Heads high

Spirits gay

Camp Songo men

Take the field, we’ll never yield

We’ll never yield

 

Bugle call

Welcome sound

In line we fall

Victory bound

Our banners are high

Right to the sky

Forward to fight is our battle cry.

 


 

On Camp Songo

 

On Camp Songo, On Camp Songo

Fight on Green and Gray

(Blank blank blank…)         (??)

 

Set the hills reverberating

Echoes roar our fame

Oh, Songo marching on to glory

Fight for Songo’s name.


 

Scalp ‘Em, Songo

 

On Camp Songo’s big reservation

Sits the best tribe of the nation

Scalp ‘em, Songo          [followed by war whoop]

Scalp ‘em, Songo

 

Wiser than the owl in the night

Swifter than the hare in its flight

Scalp ‘em, Songo

Scalp ‘em, Songo

 

And in the evening by the council fire

Copper skins are brightly gleaming

Black eyes gleaming for the Songo war

 

Here's good luck to Camp Songo’s warriors

Hoping they'll return all victorious

Scalp ‘em, Songo

Scalp ‘em, Songo!

Songo Had Some Golden Chickens

 

 

Songo had some golden chickens

No eggs they lay

Songo had some golden chickens

No eggs they lay

Now Doc * said “Honey,

This isn't funny

We're losing money

No eggs they lay.”

 

Then one day a green rooster

Came into their yard

And caught those chickens

Right off their guard

They're laying eggs now

Just like they used to

Ever since the green rooster

Came into their yard.

 

___________________

 

     * “Doc” was the nickname of the Camp Director.

 

Songo in Every Battle

 

Songo, in every battle

Brings the bacon home or bust

Songo, we make things rattle

Please excuse our dust!

 

We may not be the early risers

But, say, we capture all the prizes

And we make things quake

For alma mater’s sake

We’re the campers of Pleasant Lake.

 

Songo on Pleasant Lake

 

                                                        [Tune: University of Southern California fight song]

 

Songo, on Pleasant Lake

We're out to win

For Songo’s sake

Our hearts

Of flame and fire

With one desire

We’ll never tire

For we are out for gore  

And what is even more

We -- Will -- Win

Because we are…

[Repeats]


 

Songo, We Love

 

                                                                                    [Tune: Wagner’s Tannhauser]

 

Songo, we love

Our loyal hearts beat ever

To you we’re true

Men of Songo fight on forever

Though the foe may show fight

We will win, day and night

Songo, always a tower of strength and renown

Our Camp Songo

Our Camp Songo.

 

The Green Songo Hills

 

                                                     [Tune: Second movement, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony]

 

The green Songo hills

Re-echo our cry

Men of Green

Valiant team

Men supreme

Will smash the Gold ‘ere long

 

With faith in our men

We will triumph again

Men of Green

Valiant team

Men supreme

Will smash the Gold ‘ere long.

 

We are young, we are bold, undefeated

Hearts are one, spirits gay, none can beat us

With the odds on our side, victory’s certain

For the _______ (??), and we will win

 

 

For we

Are the Green

Valiant team

Men supreme

We are young, we are bold, undefeated

We’re the Green

And we will win!

 

 

The March Is On

 

The march is on

No brain or brawn

Can stop the Gray Team’s fighting men

You'll hear our cry

The grim defy

Of our attack let loose again

For it’s the fight fight fight of victory

The Gray Team’s call to march

And all its warriors are winning

When you hear that fight fight fight

 

Gray march together

Staunchly we stand

Friends bright and true

We are the Gray Team's gallant men

Shoulder to shoulder

Smash through the enemy

Lift up your banners

And march along to victory.


 

We Stand in the Dawn

 

We stand in the dawn and we watch the flag rise

The red and the white and the blue Songo skies

Our hearts fill with joy, and our heads fill with pride

We are brothers and friends, and it feels good inside

Through the years love will grow; we’ll return like the tide

To Camp Songo

 

Cool breeze and warm lakes; the tall trees slowly sway

The touch of the sun on the green and the gray

The fireflies glow, for ‘tis night all too soon

In darkness, our bugle notes rise to the moon

 

We stand in the dawn and we watch the flag rise

The red and the white and the blue Songo skies

Our hearts fill with joy, and our heads fill with pride

We are brothers and friends, and it feels good inside

Through the years love will grow; we’ll return like the tide

To Camp Songo.

 


 

You Men of Green Team, on to Victory

 

                                                                                                [Tune: La Marseillaise]

 

You men of Green Team, on to Victory

The day of glory has arrived  

With the banner of valor to guide us

Rally round as we march on the foe

We will fight come what might to the end

For the honor of Green to defend

Now hush, as the foe sounds retreat

Now rush, as the Gray route is complete

The Green Team will triumph ‘ere the sun sets

 

March on, you men of Green

The Viking host is keen

March on, march on

All hearts as one

 [last line??]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thanks to Bill Berkowitz for the information

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