Most camp people never need to ponder the necessity of camp songs. They're tradition... normal... "wouldn't be camp without them"
I have encountered the question several times outside of camp and when hiring new staff. In fact, I've even heard the phrase "I don't do camp songs" muttered by a potential staffer. My reply is always the same: "You will."
I always demand a great deal from my staff. One of my common requests is the occasional song. This can come at any time, whether the normal "camp spirit" time, during lunch, in the morning, during breaks or while walking on the path.
Is this unreasonable? Of course not! Anyone is capable of learning and leading a camp song... anyone. They do not require any musical ability, nor a loud voice, nor a completely ridiculous and outgoing person. In fact, I've encountered many a staffer who appeared shy and reserved every other moment of the day... except when singing.
There are also some solutions for those who are reluctant. For the "too cool for school" (generally) male staff members, I'd have them create chants and shouts. Those aren't as "corny" (blah) because the army does them... For the incredibly shy team members, there's always a camper who wants to be leader for the day.
ANYWAY, the best solution is to sing... and when you're done singing, sing some more. BUT WHY?!?
Well, the number 1 reason is that camp songs are fun. When everyone is singing loudly and participating, the FUN is contagious. This is an activity that no one loses, no one is left out and everyone wins!
Number 2? It's an excellent way to kill time... AW... I didn't mean that! Hehe. Seriously, though, singing camp songs can effectively use 5 - 10 - 15 minutes with any size group. Anyone that has run a camp experience can definitely understand how useful that is!
Number 3 is exercise. Most songs get kids out of their seat... and on some days, especially stormy ones, there are only sitting activities. These kids need to use that extra fuel in positive ways!
Number 4 is [related to number 3] ENERGY! If everyone is jumping around and singing, it really livens up the group... This can be used to pump them up before some big event or to wake them from the afternoon lull.
Number 5... they're social. If I am new and see everyone singing and having a good time, I really want to join in. Those butterflies disappear and I forget how much I miss my Mom. In addition, I'm more likely to interact with the others around me who are also singing.
Number 6....? It's contagious... in a good way. Songs show the right kind of spirit - no anger or negative fuel in this fire! We sing together, we feel closer together... Bonding... etc.
There are more than 6 (educational / storytelling aspects not even covered)... but work beckons! I promise to have more entries as soon as my Sesame Street work finishes (and I will keep you in the loop about seeing all of my hard labor sometime in October!)
Until then, keep singing!