Summer Camp

Our Review of the Week highlights the history of American summer camp and its impact on the childhood experience through an interdisciplinary lens

Children’s nature : the rise of the American summer camp

Paris, Leslie. New York University, 2008
364p, 0814767079 $39.00, 9780814767078 $39.00

Paris (history, Univ. of British Columbia) brings to life the wonder that is summer camp. For more than a century, summer camps have provided children with an opportunity to escape into a world of fresh air, fun, and socialization. The author examines summer camp from a variety of perspectives—historical, economic, physical, and social—and looks at how ideals about summer camp developed in the late 19th century were carried into the 20th century. She looks at how summer camps taught children not only traditional sports but also a variety of rituals, and provides a careful discussion of how issues prevalent in North American society at large—for example, racism—infiltrated summer camps. The pictures add to the book’s sparkle and appeal. This book will be of great value to those interested in recreation and leisure in North America, and it will delight those who have their own summer camp experiences. Some 70 pages of bibliographic references stand in for a bibliography.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; general readers.
K. H. Weiller, University of North Texas
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Feb 2009