Ahhhh…summer...it means going on a Bahamas vacation, going to Walt Disney World of some other fun site in central Florida, and (did I mention) CAMPING. If you are an entomophoebe, are too economically tight for a kids’/family camp, or have a short summer due to the calendar creep in some states (when you have to go to school on late July/early August -- ugh!), then use your imagination! In 1986, Kids Klassics’ musical rarity, Kids’ Sing-A-Long Music Video: Camp Melody, emphasized this above advice if anything is a roadblock for a camping trip. I actually bought this VHS in the 90’s, which was the era when I was exposed to the myriad advertisements of Treasure Rocks, Fantastic Flowers, and other “I want that, Mommy!” toys on the tube.

The video starts with Sammy, the oldest of the campers, peering out of the red velvet curtains when Carol (also peering out of the curtains) asked her where are the other campers. Rosa, a scaredy-cat, screamed, signaling the two campers that she found the others. They (I mean the few campers on their way to the campsite) were introduced to E. Magination, a human, magician-like figment of the word played on in his name. After the company got to know him by singing his theme, they soon found out that Camp Melody is stark to them -- no playground, no trees, no mountains, and none of the rest of the gang -- well, excluding Francesca, of course, as Rosa remarked. E. Magination resolved this by urging campers to use their -- well, you know what they used!

Several campers arrive by imagination, including a hungry Dottie and a gummy worm-eating Francesca (much to Rosa’s chagrin). Kay and May were the last ones to arrive at Camp Melody, but Dottie got hungry after the campers sang “They’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain”. (The last verse mentions chicken and dumplings, which made her hungry.) To the other campers’ pleas, she warded off her hunger by using the bright side of her imagination. The kids were introduced to their head counselor, Clarissa the Clown. (Imagine having a clown keeping campers in line for scheduled activities in camp!) Sammy led the gang in “Sammy Says,” but Francesca and Rosa were startled by strange noises. Kendra, believed by some to be a nemophiliac, revealed that it came from a kookaburra. A song, named after that particular bird, was performed in a synth-speckled song-and-dance by the gang. (Remember, this is 1986, the mid-80’s -- so don’t expect any hip-hop or pop-lock-and-drop-its!)

Clarissa led the gang on the bug-laden, old nature trail, when they encountered an exhausted Roger Raccoon on the railroad. To pass away his time, they sang a medley of train-related songs (“I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad,” “Wheels on the Train,” and “Down by the Station”). Francesca got scared of the noises in the woods because she used her scary side of her imagination, which explained the disappearance of a handful of campers. When she used her bright side, the gang returned and sang “Talk to the Animals,” to see that Rosa can communicate with fauna. Clarissa rounded them up into the corral for a hoedown, where they square-danced to “Oh, Susanna.” (Yee-haw!)

It was getting dark, and one camper conjured a campfire for the pals. Dottie finally got what she deserved, a marshmallow from Clarissa. May felt homesick, so the campers sang “Home on the Range” to comfort her. Carol felt disappointed that it was time to go home, but E. Magination reassured her that using her imagination will help her return to Camp Melody anytime. After singing the reprise of the figment’s theme, Carol and Sammy concluded the video with closing remarks, peering out of the curtains.

Although it’s nowadays out-of-print, you can ask your local library about the video if you have young children/siblings. This is worth the borrowing because it predates Barney, Teletubbies, Boohbah, and other excruciating shows shown currently on the small screen. I recommend this to purple-dino-loathing guys, parents, babysitters, and nostalgia-lovers. They’ll learn that the no-cost way of camping out is by using your imagination!