[This summer my sons return (after a frustrating Covid hiatus last year) to their favorite sleepaway camp. As ever that gives me serious empty nest syndrome, but more relevantly it also gave me an opportunity for a week of Summer CampStudying! Leading up to this crowd-sourced weekend post on the summer camp experiences, stories, and perspectives of fellow AmericanStudiers.]
First, I wanted to share here my most recent Saturday Evening Post Considering History column, on the worst and best takeaways from an enraging experiences my boys had at camp this year.
Some great responses to Wednesday’s post on Jewish camps:
Betsy Cazden tweets “Do you have the book Raising Reds? It includes the camp I went to as a child, Camp Woodland, which was a lot of NY Jewish lefties plus Black kids and staff plus Pete Seeger and Odetta—pretty radical in the 1950s. My parents were staff; Katha Pollitt was in my cabin.”
Elissa Taub tweets, “Love this! My son is at Jewish summer camp in MS (yes, you read that right). The camp is a great connector for Jewish kids from small and large towns thru-out the Deep South. Some campers are the only Jewish kids in their schools. It's such a great outlet for them!”
Other great CampStudying responses:
Olivia Lucier writes, “I went to Camp Green Eyrie in Harvard, MA for many many many years and loved it. Some of the best summer memories…except one summer. Our platform tent had an ants nest under it and they traveled into my BAG and laid eggs in my bag! It was disgusting and traumatizing because of the thousands and thousands of ants in my suitcase! Other than that happy memories.”
Robin Field shares, “I went to a ‘young writers’ camp for two weeks at Duke when I was 13. It was gratifying to be around a lot of writer nerd teens. Later I went to a journalism camp for a week when I was 16 at Ball State University, since I was about to be editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper. I won first prize for my feature story on interracial dating. These academic camps were really helpful in showing I had a tribe.”
Alison Dassatti Allegresso writes, “My dad went to an overnight camp as a kid, and on the first night, all the teenage councilors cruelly threw the young campers’ rolled up sleeping bags down a hill, only to take them and throw them back down when the kids retrieved them. It was so miserable, my dad decided on the spot that when he one day had children of his own, he would never send them to summer camp. So, my brother and I never went.”
Mimi Murray shares, “I went to Rockbrook Camp for girls for eight summers as a camper and two as a counselor—I'm still in a private FB group of women I'm friends with from camp. RBC just celebrated its 100th anniversary.”
Next series starts Monday,
PS. What do you think? Summer camp stories you’d share or histories you’d highlight?