Show stoppers around the the campfire
May 1, 2011 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Give me your Audience Hacks!

I'm spending this summer in New Mexico at Philmont Scout Ranch. Part of my job is putting on a nightly campfire show, telling stories and singing songs to Boy Scouts. I'm looking for ways to make the evening make an impression outside of the normal string of corny jokes and loud singing.
What can I do to blow the mind of impressionable 14-19 year old boy scouts?
The best example of what I'm looking for is Bobby McFerrin's unbelievable Pentatonic scale demonstration, which I'm borrowing shamelessly
I think what I'm looking for is for the specific bits of magic that an act can use to make themselves great - like the Decemberists playing the mariner's revenge with a paper mache whale eating them or these guys doing the fork in the garbage disposal
I guess some call and response songs do this (500 miles comes to mind, or the Kinks' Lola [which is even more awesome because subversion at boy scout camp is the best thing ever, and as great as the boy scouts are they certainly can use more exposure to gender issues and the like]) but I'm not looking for songs so much as gimmicks that are so awesome they can be forgiven for being gimmicks. Have you ever seen anything like this? Have you ever tried anything like this?
posted by Archibald Edmund Binns to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Telling a story of how man got fire, and it culminated when a ball of flame came zinging in on a wire from somewhere and lit the campfire.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:45 PM on May 1, 2011

I might add, that I saw the wire earlier in the day, so I knew something was up. It would be better if it was pre-rigged and only pulled up after dark.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:47 PM on May 1, 2011

Depends how big your audience is, but nail some slick but simple card tricks. Why don't you put the boys into pairs and give each pair the responsibility of entertaining the others for ten minutes each night in turn? Seems unfair that you have to do all the work and boys like showing off. Even asking each of them to talk about the most awesome thing in their life or something would get them involved. I'd go easy on the gender subversion though, if you want to send a message try Western Union and all that and 15 year old boys, even boy scouts, could be pretty brutal behind your back if they feel you're preaching to them.
posted by joannemullen at 3:20 PM on May 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

How to make a fire ball you can hold in your hand.

Chemicals that change flame color.
posted by stray thoughts at 4:11 PM on May 1, 2011

Maybe start the campfire by lighting some magnesium, or something else that burns ridiculously bright? I remember having great fun burning magnesium ( I think it was magnesium) in high school chem class. I have no idea how safe it is or how practical it is for your situation - just an idea to stimulate thought.

Also, assuming you are musically inclined, maybe one of those bits where you sing through the chorus of a bunch of different songs showing just how similar most pop music is? I've seen it on Youtube, can't remember who did it but I bet somebody after me here knows and hopefully will link to it.
posted by COD at 4:17 PM on May 1, 2011

COD, are you thinking of this?
posted by knilstad at 4:57 PM on May 1, 2011

Or this?
posted by knilstad at 5:00 PM on May 1, 2011

Yeah, that first one was the one I had seen.
posted by COD at 5:01 AM on May 2, 2011

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