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  • Campfire Story Telling

    I thought this might be interesting to spin away from an I&P thread as we delve beyond the topic.

    "I found my Kindle very helpful at summer camp for reading stories to the boys at bedtime.

    Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts?

    Just off hand, reading a story to Cub Scouts before lights out at camp seems like a great idea. Reading a story to Boy Scouts sounds rather surprising if that happened.

    With Cub Scout camping, I generally tell Scouts they can stay up talking as long as they want, secure in the knowledge that ten minutes after they get in bed they will all be asleep!

    Sounds like a charming idea, but I'm guessing it would need to be a short story if you wanted them to hear the end of it!

    Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts?

    Cub age boys (I'm not affiliated with the BSA). Jungle Book stories and the like. Yes, I agree - not a great idea for Scout age boys."

    The gyst of the exchange as I read it is the Kindle is good for being a source of stories to tell at campfires but seems to imply that story time of this sort - where it's read rather than recited from memory perhaps - is much more appropriate for Cub Scouts and not Boy Scouts.

    I'd like to suggest that story time is good for every age - whether it's a story being read or recited. The right person, with the right timbre of voice, can captivate a campfire surrounded by teenagers and adults reading Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" or Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee". I've had 16 and 17 years olds listening intently as I read The Lorax by Dr. Zeuss. I think its a matter of picking the right material, and reading it in a way that makes it compelling.

    So what are other folks experiences - have you read stories to your Boy Scouts and if so, which ones? Are there any that have been more successful than others? Or are your Scouts more impressed by hearing a memorized tale? What about to Cub Scouts? Any stories that work well with a "mixed" crowd (like the aforementioned The Lorax)?

    Or is this just something you don't do because its something that hasn't been done and you're not sure how the Scouts will react or because you aren't a good story teller?


  • #2
    anyone can read a story, well, almost anyone, you do have to have a measure of volume and clarity. There is the telling of stories by memory, and my good friend Pierre has the following in his repertoire. This list is a must "hear" at summer camp and the boys request them by name

    The Cremation of Sam McGee
    Casey at the Bat
    The Bugville Nine
    The Ballad of William Sycamore
    Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
    The Voyageur
    The Sons of Molly McGuire
    Rainy Day at Camp
    Little Bateste
    If*
    Monster
    Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

    When Pirre gets rolling, he is a sight to see, or so I have told by thems who knows


    * The Poem by Rudyard Kipling, not the song by Bread

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    • #3
      While it is true almost anyone can read a story, it is also true that some read stories much better than others. Understanding the reason for punctuation, using proper intonation where needed, and using hand, along with facial expressions as needed to fit the story are things fewer use to advantage.

      As far as age goes, all ages appreciate a good story read or even recorded. All you have to do is watch kids if they are exposed to either old radio programs such as The Shadow, or more current material from recordings or today's radio stations. Personally, I feel story listening and reading are inter-related. Most kids whose parents read to them regularly, starting early, and continue as time and schedules allow, appear to be superior readers with better comprehension.

      But, I had never thought about the new devices such as Kindle for that type of thing. As I get older, it is harder for me to remember some stories, especially ones I have not told as often. As yet I have not gotten any type of reader, but I may have to reconsider.

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      • #4
        On the road 19hrs to her college, my daughter and the Mrs. requested a reading of the Hobbit. So, we stopped at a Walmart and picked up a paperback. Left it with her to finished the last five chapters on her own. (Pity, the voice of Smaug is one of my favorites.)

        That's the downside of a kindle, you just can't toss it to the kid who liked the story ...

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        • #5
          When I worked for the Eckerd Foundation, aka "Hoods in da Woods" one of the things I did was read to the teenage boys before bed. For some of them, that was the first time anyone had read them a bedtime story.

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          • #6

            Campfire stories are one venue. Bedtime stories another. Campfire should, nay, MUST be recited for the best affect, but reading is okay for the neophite or the long story.
            Robert Louis Stephenson , "Treasure Island" is a favorite for the B/T story. Native American lore for the campfire. Many good sources for the Indian legend. Re-read it until you are familiar with it and then recite it to yourself, either outloud or silently as you drive to work. Adapt and rework til it is your own. No need to be a word for word memorization.
            Poetry and the "saga" is something else. They have to be recited verbatum. I do like "The Cremation of Sam Magee", but I have to read it, I'm not ready for a memorization, but I'll work on it some more.

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            • #7
              The timing of this thread is eerily perfect as I'm heading out with our Webelos I den for a campout this weekend. It's going to be cooler (lows in the low- to mid-30s at night), so we'll definitely have the campfire roaring both evenings. As I read the comments from this thread and another thread that Beavah started this week, I started looking around and found some good stuff...I might give Purple Gorilla a try this weekend. I also got the Ray Harriot book, "Stories for Around the Campfire" a year or so ago from my wife...just now opened it up (let the flames commence for me waiting that long). I might also try the "Ghost of Jim Brannigan" story to contrast it with the humor of Purple Gorilla (just read 'Gorilla' tonight for the very first time and busted up laughing at the end).

              Hopefully I'll have time to read through them both a few more times so I can attempt to do it without being tied to the book/sheet.

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