Episode 11: Everything About Summer Camp

Episode 11: Everything About Summer Camp

History of Summer Camp in the US:

  • Industrial Revolution ended early mid 1800s. Quality and way of life changing.
  • Victorian convictions about nature’s moral and physical benefits,
  • as well as newer concerns about degeneracy and falling birth rates.

The earliest camps were

  • small, private camps for older boys,
  • developed in response to growing concerns about the emasculating tendencies of what was called overcivilization.
  • located in the woods of northern New England, far from the temptations of city life and the refinements of the “feminized” home.

Types of early camps:

  • In some camps, campers did all the cooking and cleaning, and ate off tin plates,
  • while at others, a professional cook served meals on china.

Boom in 1890’s-YMCA camps! Urban poor and middle class boys.

YMCA estimated 5000 boys served 1901. By 1916 served 23,300.

Early YMCA camps tended to mimic military encampments – some of that tradition can be seen in the Parent Trap movie

  • sleeping tents pitched around a square parade ground where
  • campers enacted reveille,
  • morning inspection,
  • calisthenics, and
  • taps.


  • Early 20th century:
  • Camps for girls,
  • religious camps,
  • political camps,
  • and in other countries health camps.

By 21st century there’s a camp for everything!

  • Music,
  • disabilities,
  • foreign language,
  • computer programming,
  • Diabetes

Whether serving boys or girls, camps offered a range of activities:

  • campcraft (i.e., skills needed to survive in the wild),
  • nature study,
  • manual training (later called arts and crafts),
  • calisthenics,
  • swimming, and a range of the other SPORTS (although early camp organizers frowned on BASEBALL and BASKETBALL as too “urban” for camp-tennis too). P

FAQs.org Summer Camp


Image: Orby by the Beach

How to Pick the “Best Fit” Summer Camp.

Pick ME Pick ME!


Psychology Today Resilience and Summer Camp

Benefits of Camp…a few among many

  • growth in social skills

  • at risk middle school kids get huge benefit from occupation based summer camps active engagement carries through back into their high risk environments

  • physical and mental challenges

  • confidence

  • self sufficiency

  • belonging and culture created by the camp

  • set up to learn new things

Camp Cookin’!

My favorite recipes from the Camp Fire Inc. Cook Book: Camp Fire Celebrates Food and Friendship