The best campfire songs for families and groups: sure-fire hits for the campfire

best campfire songs: family around a campfire
Singing around a campfire with children is a joy for both adults and children alike (Image credit: Getty Images)

Interaction. That's what all the best campfire songs have in common. Of course, you can sing anything you like with the fam, especially as songs your tribe know and love are bound to be a hit. However, if the musical taste of the singers gathered around the campfire is a bit more of an unknown, or if you’re not even sure they’re that eager to sing in the first place, you need sure-fire crowd pleasers that will entertain everyone, while maximizing involvement.

I’ve always loved a campfire, whether singing, telling ghost stories or toasting marshmallows. Over many years of leading groups of children on residential visits, I developed an arsenal of songs for camping trips, hits that I knew would have everyone smiling and laughing in no time.

The beauty of some of these camping songs is that they can be adapted to suit the audience and are often performed with different nuances from one group to the next. However, the core of the song remains the same and you can find plenty of YouTube videos that’ll give you a good idea of how to go about leading them.  They all work just as well when camping with kids on a family car camping trip as with a huge school or scout group.

Here, I’ve given my personal take on the five best campfire songs, detailing what makes them so special. So, before you load the car with your family tent and gear, arm yourself with this quintet of superb, interactive camping songs.

Meet the expert

Highlander Serenity 450 Mummy Sleeping Bag: wild camp
Alex Foxfield

Prior to becoming a freelance writer on all things outdoors, Alex was a senior leader in an Inner-London school. One of his responsibilities was leading the residential activity trips and has led (with some, gusto) many campfire singing sessions with up to 90 gathered kids.

1. Campfire's burning


Campfire's burning indeed (Image credit: Getty)

Okay, this is a slow burner (excuse the pun). It’s not as immediately exciting or as interactive as the other campfire songs in this selection. However, it’s a nice, short, simple number that warms up the vocal cords and welcomes in the ritual of the campfire singalong while everyone stares into the mesmerizing, dancing flames. It's sang to the same tune as the London's Burning nursery rhyme. Sing it once on your own, then invite everyone to join in.

Campfire’s burning, campfire’s burning

Draw nearer, draw nearer

In the gloaming, in the gloaming

Come sing and be merry

Of course, there are ways you could jazz it up. Divide your group into four and sing it as a round, with each division starting the song at different times. By the time the first lot get to Come sing and be merry, the second team will be singing In the gloaming, the third team will be on Draw nearer and the final bunch will have just started Campfire’s burning.

Another way to sing it, and a good exercise in dynamics, is to start quiet and steadily get louder after a couple of rounds, before fading out again to a whisper. Tell the group to picture a person singing on a raft approaching along a slow moving river and to imagine how it would sound if they were singing the song, steadily getting closer and louder, before fading away into the distance.

2: Everywhere we go

best campfire songs: bigger group

Everywhere We Go works well when you've got a larger group (Image credit: Getty Images)

This one is a magnificent option for getting the group enthused and energized towards the start of the session. It’s a classic call-and-response camping song that must’ve been sang by hundreds of thousands of groups across the world. Perhaps the best thing about it is the sense of togetherness and pride it can instil in whatever family, school, scout group or sports team everyone belongs to.

The real fun comes from the fact that every time you sing a round, you get louder and louder. First time through, do it with a normal singing voice to familiarize the group with the song, then get really quiet for the next round. The quieter you go here, the more space you leave yourself to get louder with each repeated round. 

Everywhere we go-oh  Everywhere we go-oh

People wanna know-oh  People wanna know-oh

Who we are-ah  Who we are-ah

And where we come from  And where we come from

And so we tell them  And so we tell them

We’re <name of group> – We’re <name of group>

The mighty <name of group> – The mighty <name of group>

And if they can’t hear us – And if they can’t hear us

We shout a little louder! We shout a little louder

(Repeat until ridiculously loud.)

Once you get really loud and the kids are really going for it, everyone will be having a great time. Just remember that if this is one of the first numbers in your session, don’t go too hard too soon. The last thing you want to do is wreck your voice on song #1.

It’ll feel like a bit of a runway train by the end and the best way to stop it is to replace the final shouted We shout a little louder! by bringing the volume right back down and saying They must be deaf. This is bound to elicit a laugh from the masses.

3: Down by the Bay

best campfire songs: family campfire

Did you ever see a kid playing guitar with a squid? (Image credit: Getty Images)

This is another high energy classic that will have been sang countless times by families and groups enjoying time in the great outdoors. It works by adding animals doing odd rhyming actions (goose kissing a moose or llamas eating pajamas or a bear combing his hair, to give three examples) to the end of each round and then memorizing them, adding them to the song each time.

Down by the bay!

Where the watermelons grow

Back to my home

I dare not go

For if I do

My mother will say

“Did you ever see <an animal doing a rhyming action>?

(Add previously sang animals and actions here)

Down by the bay!

To add participation, you could ask your singing buddies to come up with their own animals and actions, going around the circle and building the song in this way.

At the end, you could add a Did you ever have a time you couldn’t think of a rhyme? to wrap things up nicely.

4: Boom Chicka Boom

best campfire songs: family at the fire

Boom Chicka Boom is a great song for getting everyone involved (Image credit: Getty Images)

This is a simple and highly effective call-and-response campfire song that children and grown-ups love in equal measure. Get the kids to click their fingers along with you and enjoy. The beauty of it is that every time you sing a round, you change your voice in some way or other, which you indicate at the end of the round by announcing how it will be sang next.

So, first time around, sing it in your normal singing voice, before announcing the next round will be in ‘high-pitched style’. Then, sing the round in a really high-pitched voice and laugh along with the kids as they attempt to imitate. After this, the options of styles are endless. It can be anything from: low, fast, slooooooow, loud, quiet, posh, cool, American, British, French, like a dog, like a cat, like you're underwater etc. etc.

I said a boom chicka boom – I said a boom chicka boom

I said a boom chicka boom – I said a boom chicka boom

I said a boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicka boom I said a boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicka boom

Uh huh Uh huh

Oh yeah – Oh yeah

One more time – One more time

<insert style> style

You can always open it up to the gathered group to come up with suggestions too and have a laugh when trying to meet their demands. “Like you’re a frog on a motorbike.”

5: The Bungalow

best campfire songs: fun at the campfire

For pure campfire excitement, nothing beats the Bungalow (Image credit: Getty Images)

This is probably the campfire song I looked forward to most on any given trip and, if you do more than one session with the group, it’s the one the kids will be imploring you to do again the second time. It’s the Bungalow, a high energy classic with loads of actions and participation from the kids. The leader goes around selecting people to show the group their “Bungalow”, which is a personalized dance move for everyone else to follow.

As leader, it’s your job to brief a few among those gathered beforehand on what is expected when they’re selected. Once you’ve gone through a few rounds, everyone will know how to do it and you can choose people at will. Sneaking around and surprising unsuspecting singers by choosing them is also great fun.

(Everyone) Bungalow! Bung-bungalow! Bungalow! Bung-bungalow!

(Leader pointing at singer) Hey you! – Who me?

(Leader) Yes you! Let me see your Bungalow!

(Everyone) Let me see your Bungalow!

(Chosen singer) My hands are high (lifts hands in the air), my feet are low (drops hands to feet) and this is how I Bungalow (sang while performing chosen dance move)!

(Everyone) His/her hands are high, his/her feet are low and this is how he/she Bungalows (while copying dance moves)

Having the rest of the group copy their dance moves is confidence building for the chosen kids. Try to make sure everyone who wants a turn gets one and don't push it too much of some children don't want to show their "Bungalow". 

Tips for leading a campfire singing session

best campfire songs: smores

A well planned session around the campfire is a thing of joy (Image credit: Getty Images)

Plan properly

Leading a campfire singalong can be intimidating. Big groups, darkness, excitement and a roaring fire can sound like a cocktail for disaster. Campfire safety is paramount and you should properly risk assess the environment beforehand, make sure you have a good ratio of adults to children and brief your audience fully on acceptable campfire behavior. Don’t be afraid to call the whole thing off if you have any doubts.

Put someone else in charge of the fire

Planning the session, knowing how to build a campfire, leading the songs, tending to the flames and keeping an eye on all the kids can all be a bit much for one person. If it’s just you and your family, this might seem doable but it’ll be all too much if you have a larger group. If you’re leading the songs, get another responsible adult to mind the fire and while the other adults keep an eye on the group. Better still, if other people have a song they want to lead, this will give you, and your voice, a nice break. I've had it where children have come up with their own campfire songs for the second session, having had so much fun during the first session and taken inspiration from it. Giving them a chance to lead is always rewarding.

best campfire songs: firewood bundle

A bundle provided by the campground will be properly seasoned and burn effectively (Image credit: Getty Images)

Emergency provisions and the right wood

Fill the camping bucket and have the first aid kit nearby, just in case. Even during the most well-planned and controlled singing session, there’s always the possibility of a rogue missile spat out by the fire. Reduce the risk of this occurring by using a properly sourced and seasoned hardwood, such as oak, birch, ash, beech or hazel, which are chief among the best trees for firewood. You should be able to get a bundle from your campground or a local store. It'll burn much better than the potentially damp wood you'd find lying around, which would probably throw out a load of unpleasant smoke too – not ideal with kids about.

Give out some flashlights and headlamps to make the entrance and exit from the campfire circle as safe as possible. Insist they’re turned off during the session though, as it should really only be the magical light of the campfire illuminating matters once things get started.


Enthusiasm and laughter are infectious. Your gusto is how you’ll win around even the most reluctant singers, along with the absolute campfire bangers detailed above. So, going into it knowing you’ve got everything sorted, that you've got the best camping songs up your sleeve and that they're going to be lots of fun will give you the confidence to just go for it.

best campfire songs: family around campfire

Enthusiasm is key (Image credit: Getty Images)

Take it down occasionally

If you bash out high octane, loud and shouty songs for too long, everyone’s going to end up with a headache. Any gig has a mid-set lull where the performers take it down a notch or two in order to enjoy a little breather. Take the opportunity between songs to point out the wonders of the northern hemisphere night sky, or have an extended pause to toast those s’mores.

Alex Foxfield

Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He's the former President of the London Mountaineering Club, is training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and is always keen to head to the 4,000-meter peaks of the Alps.