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Camp Songs

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--on the occasion of YMCA Camp Eberhart’s 100th Anniversary, 2009

From the hills I gather courage,
visions of the days to be,
strength to lead and faith to follow,
all are given unto me.
“Peace,” Traditional

At twilight on the lake road my feet lift
beside bullfrogs, moon whistles
of whippoorwills measure me
to campfire, staccatos of Polaris
phrase into morning rounding
robin at the window ledge:
I walk in the planet’s arc
with meadow grass, blown, rooted,
pine-boughed from the forest’s edge;
from the hills I gather courage

to sit in the evening beyond
batteries of a flashlight
outreaching into others’
beams, recounting sky
at four o’clock; coordinates
of heron; trails of leaf,
breeze, shore; turnings
of oak and teenager;
songbooks of Cassiopeia, Leo;
visions of the days to be

stream or stepping stone:
the resolution light requires
at the river bend to work
seedling into sycamore,
counselor to compass to canoe;
to hold air under the swallow
in the vein of wing; breathe
and glide with child; sail
or rein or wander; in self allow
strength to lead and faith to follow

fall, winter into new song,
memory into old; allow
voice its breath, breath
voice; brother, sister
notes in the melody of lake,
the solo of hill, to feel
the hum of choir standing
in chord with light,
friend, purpose, peace:
all are given unto me.

Summer Time at Camp Eberhart
by Victoria (Vicki) Ford

It's June. You find yourself in southwestern Michigan. Your car turns onto Corey Lake road by itself. You know how the trees hand over the road, sunlight filtering down through the leafy green. You know the birdsong. You know the smells of the road, of the soil. Your heart expands, and as you pick up the scent of fresh-water lakes, as Harwoods and Little Corey come into view, your heart fills with the hope of a child. By the time you turn into Camp, nothing else really seems to matter.
[May 27, 2008]

by Victoria (Vicki) Ford

Cities, months away
news slams into trunks
storms hit three hundred
trees we knew, shoulders
of limbs, wings of branches,
guardians of green:
do those that held us
hold? do we know

the bark we touched
touched us, told us
blood flowed in us as leaves
taking our breath, giving it back
weathering wind, ice, years
surrendering summer
green to light, chapel oaks, hosts
of note, song, catalpas’
broad leaves keeping heat
from the path up the hill, mulberries
purpling the touchable wild,
thin ironwoods, brother, sister

cities, months away
we bend back, knowing
we breathe what is left,
stand, lift the fallen, the snapped
tangled clear from cabin
seedling and hill for every child
to come

A new song, written summer 2006 by a camper for the closing campfire. If you've ever made a friend at Camp Eberhart, we're sure you can relate too... enjoy, and remember

Won't say "good bye"

Where's the good in goodbye
It's just a bitter melody
Just another falling star
A sad song we all must sing
So take that falling star and hold it in your heart
Sing that melody where ever you are
Smile at the memories that you hold so dear
And know that we're never too far

And I won't say good bye to you
I won't turn around and walk away
'Cause saying good bye means it might be forever
And I won't let it end that way

If you're ever feeling lonley
If you're ever feeling blue
Close your eyes and take a breath
And know that friends remain true
So take a look at the faces that surround you here
Memorise the smiles the laughs the tears
'Cause we are a family believe it or not
That keeps growing through the years

And I won't say good bye to you
I won't turn around and walk away
'Cause saying good bye means it might be forever
And I won't let it end that way

Good byes are a bitter melody
Farewells are a sad song we must sing
So I refuse to say good bye
'Cause I'm sure we'll meet again in this life

And I won't say good bye to you
I won't turn around and walk away
'Cause saying good bye means it might be forever
And I won't let it end that way
No this good bye is not forever
'Cause I want let it end that way. 

--to Bryce, Carter, Elsa, Gina, and all who stand here in peace--

By Camp's Poet Laureate, VICKI FORD

A squirrel jumps sunlight
in dark branches crossing
three stories up; leaf, light, limb
words enough for one
on the move.
We sit below, rhythms
of tree and field stone breezing
grasses, phrasing star.
Oaks breathe in water, sun
their columns shore
their leaves air
their veins, signing
in green hands of sky
over the gathered
field stones of the pulpit
resting in mortar like palms
outspread, together, offering
to keep rock open and round.
Whatever we hear, we hold
notes of a chord resounding
the length of our shared breath
and stand to sing.

on the occasion of Camp’s 95th Anniversary Reunion, June 2004.
By Camp's Poet Laureate, VICKI FORD

Here’s to trash runs and midnight sails.
We took some bumps on booms and pails
bearing flags and scraps of the feathered or finned
and running free—before the wind.

Here’s to the first years when we were young:
we may have shared packages, we may have clung;
we may have poked bull’s eyes in targets with sticks
but we came clean and lived, to laugh at old tricks.

Here’s to the Low Road, the croaking of frogs,
cabins, cattails, and Powder Room clogs.
Here’s to softball and here’s to KP:
here’s to scraping a plate or a knee.

Here’s to bugles from morning ‘til musk,
in the misty mist or the dusky dusk.
Here’s to the ringing of forks and spoons
refining the mess hall with Bug Juice and tunes.

Here’s to food fights, here’s to Pete:
here’s to him hollering, “Got no more meat!”
sending us back with an empty tray
and shaking like Tide on laundry day.

Here’s to spiders in Hickory Limb
scaring the pants ON a her or a him.
Here’s to sand, in a shoe or a sheet,
to bites, the crud, and prickly heat.

Here’s to trying out something new
from drawing a bow to making a brew
of coffee with water from the lake.
(It might have been worse: it could have been cake.)

Here’s to Island and Triangle swims:
from seeing a shadow straight out of Grimm’s
to swimming until we know we’re part fish,
to reaching a shore, even a squish.

Here’s to the earth under our feet
and blisters by June (by August, concrete).
Here’s to rain hikes: no shrinking, no shoes.
Here’s to sure footing within our canoes.

Here’s to the rope swing out past the Hill,
to taking a breath or taking a spill;
to biting back worry or biting the dust,
here’s to staying within boundaries—just.

From writing songs and telling tales
of cobblestones or moonless trails,
here’s to herons, ghosts, and shapes in the lake,
to running the line for the story’s sake.

Here’s to remembering, here’s to Today,
here’s to Blue Moons and the Milky Way.
Here’s to tomorrow, no need to rehearse:
Let yourself in the flow. Add your own verse.

Here’s to Chapel and feeling good,
to wind in the trees and hope in the wood.
Here’s to friendships as solid as earth
to have and to hold, for all we are worth.

Laughter is part of the freedom to dare,
of the need to belong and the courage to care.
Here’s to the song each one of us sings.
Here’s to Eberhart under our wings.

-Eberhart Alumni Camp 2004-
By Camp's Poet Laureate, VICKI FORD

in this steady shimmer
and lift green breezes
flick leaf and light
out of the greater canopy
and blue to limb trunk
understory childhood now

I catch this breath in green
brown cerulean sun
and wind and so
sparked imagine myself
looking for answering glints
in glances of friends

I hold long ago
summers when even adults
glided with lake and hill
whippoorwill and campfire
voices curling stories renaming stars

you hear me I know
your hearts glow like leaves
we are all one day
of light on water
let’s go swim


STAR CLUSTER By Camp's Poet Laureate, VICKI FORD

Night settles

us with the years

and stars, those we know

with the absent, the forgotten, the lost

we raise glass to,  and song,

finding old words with faces

in the flicker and crack

of the fire, in the fingers of the breeze

from the lake, from the hills

and their chest of trees, from the sky of voices,

a summer night and again

we breathe with the whippoorwill,

the bullfrog, and the wing of the heron,

stubbing toes in the dark

on tree roots and truth, to be

caught by arms and the crook of smiles.


When I fall out of reach

give my name

to the campfire, too:

Dave, George, Elsa

Polaris, Vega, Antares.