You Are How You Camp

This little ditty in Slate caught my eye.
"If there's a more reliable Rorschach than sleep-away camp, I'd like to see it. How you responded to being shipped off (often at an appallingly tender age) to a cluster of cedar cabins beside a mountain lake; to being taught Native American crafts, chants, and songs of dubious authenticity; and to being subjected to various painful hazing rituals—many of them involving underwear—reveals an awful lot about your fundamental character.'
Ok, since I am in control of the blog I am going to pick out the description I like best.
'The final category is people who really, really, really enjoy camp. These are the camp cultists. You probably expect me to say that these campers grow up to be utterly incapable of functioning in a noncamp environment, and end up sleeping on the streets in cardboard boxes. In fact, the opposite is true. Camp cultists grow up to be chief executive officers of major corporations, name partners in Wall Street banking firms, Cabinet secretaries, governors, and presidents of prestigious foundations. Their universities invite them to serve on their boards. Their home towns name schools after them. They are the Establishment. Longtime Disney CEO Michael Eisner is a camp cultist, having published, in 2005, Camp, a memoir of his bygone days at Vermont's Keewaydin Canoe Camp, which bills itself as the nation's oldest continually operating summer camp (it was founded in 1893), and whose Web site invites alumni to donate securities to something called the Keewaydin Foundation. I haven't read Eisner's book, but according to Amazon.com, its "statistically improbable phrases" include "winds ceremony" and "Indian circle."

For camp cultists, summer camp is an experience that lasts a lifetime. When they're too old to be campers, they come back as counselors. When they're too old to be counselors, they send their children in their stead. When their children eventually succeed (on the third or fourth try) in getting themselves thrown out of Camp Weecheewachee, for infractions too ghastly to contemplate, camp cultists send money. Lots and lots of money. If it weren't for camp cultists, half the summer camps in the United States would be forced to close their doors, depriving today's campers of this essential early exercise in psychological sorting."

Call me a cultist. I never outgrew the place and considered becoming a director. One day I will go back again, but when I cannot say. I am not ashamed to say that the majority of my closest friends come from those days. I have many fond memories of camp.

6 comments:

Elie said...

But did you even bring home a chipmunk?

Glad you loved camp. I was the total opposite as a kid - you couldn't get me to attend sleepaway camp if you paid me. My attitude was kind of like that of the Peanuts characters, who saw it as a punishment.

But now, all of my kids have gone, and all have enjoyed it. I'm very glad they have been able to surpass me!

have popcorn will lurk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jack Steiner said...

Hi Elie,

Nope, never brought one of those home.

Chana,

That blue man icon is making me crazy. The constant movement is very distracting.

have popcorn will lurk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jack Steiner said...

Chana,

I didn't mean that you had to delete your comments. They added to the discussion, it was just a comment about the herky jerky movement of the Blue man.

have popcorn will lurk said...

My comments weren't that important anyhow. I just fixed what you commented on. I hope this is better.

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