Camps, since the dawn of time (read: the sixties), have started their announcements with a song. The song lets camp know that its time for announcements, where the program director shares the schedule and pertinent information until camp's next meal and then opens the floor up for more announcements from counselors - some informative, some funny. Let's be honest: most of them funny.
During staff week each year, Paris Ball, director of Shrine Mont Camps, writes her own program director's song to be sung at each meal. This year the song was a parody of "My Girl" by The Temptations, complete with coordinated shouts and counselors meowing in place of the musical interlude.
Here's the video. It really gets good at the 30 second mark. What they initially lack in harmony, they make up for with enthusiasm and finish strong. After all, it's "make a joyful noise" not "make a pitch-perfect noise."
Like many traditions at camp, there is both a formula for how announcements are done - connecting the announcements of now with the many camps and program directors that came before - as well as room for originality. Each summer brings parodies of new songs, ranging from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song to The Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" to the Jungle Book's "Bare Necessities" to The Muppet Show theme song (the link is a great version by OK Go).
But parodying a popular song and refitting it with lyrics about butt buns and not raising the ire of the Moomaws wasn't always how Shrine Mont Camps did announcements.
From the sixties to mid-eighties, the announcement song was always the same. You've probably heard it: "Announcements, announcements, annoooouncements." Usually with a goofy stanza sandwiched between two of those refrains. E.g., "Kat's got another one, another one, another one. Kat's got another one; she has them all the time."
In 1987, Henry Burt, former secretary and chief of staff of the Diocese of Virginia, then in his second year as St. George's program director, continued the long camp tradition of destroying camp traditions by changing the St. George's announcement tune from "the announcements song" to Johnny Carson's Tonight Show theme song, with camp singing "ba-das" in place of the big band. "There was an open rebellion in third session," said Burt. "The counselors refused to sing my song and sang the original instead. Then I followed up immediately with the Carson song and that was the end of 'the announcements song.'"
"The announcements song is dead! Long live the announcements song!"
The irony is that today camps know the parodies as "the announcements song," which was once the name of a specific song with its own traditions and room for [smaller] variations. Today there are very few counselors who were alive when one tradition replaced the other. The parodies are what camp knows now. They're more original and inventive than the proto-announcements ditty, which was ripped off wholesale from the Boy Scouts, whereas the tradition that started in 1987 is something Shrine Mont Camps can claim as their own.
At St. George's, on the last day of each session, to varying degrees of success, the camp flexes its institutional-memory muscles and sings that year's program director's song followed by every announcements song dating back to 1987, including the original "announcements song." And through this, today's campers and counselors connect themselves to every year and every session of camp at Shrine Mont since camp began in 1962, an Apostolic Succession of joy and goofiness.
By Ed Keithly
P.S. Not that it's a competition, but I would submit that the 2014 staff week announcements song is the best composed and most dynamic announcements song of all time. Just kidding: It is a competition. Feel free to discuss in the comments section below.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.