Photo Credit Noah Trevino
The history behind Woodcraft Friends
July 11, 2017

We are Friends from summertime
Friends from rain or shine,
Friends, who show the world we care.

Throughout each summer, Culver Woodcraft campers come to learn the traditions and rituals that assure the camp’s unique yet unexplainable qualities, and one of the first is through song. Just as television shows adopt a theme song to begin every episode, Culver Woodcraft Camp begins every year with Woodcraft Friends.

We are friends, who play together,
Friends, who stay together,
Friends, we’re building memories.

The song originated at Woodcraft in 2000 through the creative work of art instructor Robert Nowalk. He recalls his inspiration arose from Woodcraft’s search for a camp song. Initially they planned to use Mark Wills’ song Don’t Laugh at Me, as it promoted anti-bullying and was recommended at the American Camp Association’s annual meeting. However, some of the staff were hesitant to embrace this potential addition.

Woodcraft Friends! Do-do-de-do,
Do-do-de-do, Do-do-de-do
Woodcraft Friends! Do-do –de do

“Though we appreciated the sentiments of the song, many of us did not think it adequately addressed what Culver students experienced,” Nowalk said. Col. Janet Kline, the Woodcraft Camp director at the time, responded to the concern by opening space for other suggestions. Following this, Nowalk said, “I went home and thought about all our campers’ values and wrote Woodcraft Friends. I presented it to her the next day and Col Kline said, ‘Great.’”

Beavers, Cardinals, Butterflies, and Cubs
Listen, Work, and Play
Honor, Service, Caring, every one
That’s why we can say

And it truly has been great. The simple words and catchy rhythm lay the foundation for the common experience Woodcrafters will come to share. The lyrics embed the many truisms of a summer at Culver, emphasizing values such as honor, caring, and service; goals such as listening, working, and playing; and, most notably, the outcome of a Woodcraft summer: friendship. The song aids in facilitating a positive and inclusive culture through reiterating over and over again the valuable friendships gained throughout the six weeks spent at Woodcraft.

We are Friends in honesty,
Friends both you and me
Friends, who see each other’s good.

Every Sunday, all 13 units gather in the amphitheater for the awards ceremony. Excitement and anticipation slowly accumulate as all the campers file in, row by row, hoping that their week of hard work may have earned them a banner or honor cabin. Inevitably, the awards ceremony hosts both winners and losers; not everyone can leave carrying the athletic banner or honor cabin plaque.

But before disappointment can fully settle in, Woodcraft Friends becomes audible with a soft guitar and is quickly joined by an energetic and unified Woodcraft voice that includes campers, counselors, staff, and alumni. While competition will remain a common theme of camp that encourages diligent work ethic and camaraderie, it could not exist successfully without first prioritizing safety and inclusion.

We are Friends who live together,
Friends who know each other,
Friends, we’re building memories
Woodcraft Friends! Do-do-de-do

Lasting seventeen summers, Woodcraft Friends serves as the perfect synopsis of what a Culver summer can provide both in form and performance.

Editor’s Note: Video by Meagan Maes. Download or add Woodcraft Friends to your SoundCloud playlist.

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Posted in Alumni History Parents Summer
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