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Camp [Hardcover]

Michael D. Eisner

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Book Description

June 1 2005
Over the years, as a camper and a counselor, Disney CEO Michael Eisner absorbed the life lessons that come from sitting in the stern of a canoe or meeting around a campfire at night. With anecdotes from his time spent at Keewaydin and stories from his life in the upper echelons of American business that illustrate the camp's continued influence, Eisner creates a touching and insightful portrait of his own coming-of-age, as well as a resounding declaration of summer camp as an invaluable national institution.

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From Publishers Weekly

No one who attended the Walt Disney Co.'s 2004 annual meeting could forget Michael Eisner's sangfroid before a throng of shareholders who were calling for his ouster.What helped calm Eisner during the storm, we now learn, was writing about the lessons he (supposedly) learned all those years ago at Keewaydin, the Vermont camp where Michael and other Eisner lads before him and after spent many happy summers.Eisner is a man of powerful charm and if one knew nothing else about him, this valentine to a place that is clearly his Rosebud might win the reader over (though an attempt to bring current interest to the account by following two disadvantaged youngsters transported to Keewaydin—thanks in part to the largesse of the Eisner family—doesn't really work). The account intercuts between Eisner's experience and the experience of Keewaydin campers today, with a healthy salting of lessons learned, along with a sprinkling of Eisner family history. Eisner perhaps unwittingly paints an unflattering portrait of his father, whom he calls Lester instead of Dad, while paying extensive homage to Lester's stand-in, Waboos, longtime Keewaydin director.Anyone lucky enough to have a happy, hokey place like Keewaydin in his life—a place of simple, steadfastly unchanging charms—can sense Eisner's manifestly genuine love of the experience.But as it happens, we know quite a lot about Eisner and much of it isn't flattering. [Masters has written and spoken widely and critically about the movie business, Disney and Eisner.—Ed.] So it's hard to stay focused on the Camp text when one's eyes keep rolling. (As when he writes, "Working in business can be another canoe trip.") Eisner tells us the Keewaydin code calls for a camper to be honest, loyal and "willing to help the other fellow." When he then says, "Many of my principles were Keewaydin principles," it's easy to wonder what other Keewaydin alumni might make of that statement.Eisner seems irresistibly drawn to write. That much came through during the Katzenberg trial (notes from Eisner's previous book—Work in Progress—were the source of his famous "I hate the little midget" quote). It happened again in last year's shareholder suit over the hiring and firing of Ovitz as Disney's president. On the witness stand, Eisner had to explain away his own memos calling his former pal a "psychopath" and a liar, among other things.Eisner could not stop himself then, and he cannot stop himself now. Camp was delayed last year, in the midst of the Disney drama, and Eisner comments tartly in his prologue that he was distracted by "people who could have used a few summers at camp earlier in their lives."Perhaps it would have helped if that Keewaydin code had included an admonition to "know thyself." 8-page photo insert. Kim Masters covers the business of entertainment for NPR and is the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else (HarperCollins).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Hilariously dishy....An E-ticket ride through the world's swankest summer camp."

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes for a happy BART ride Jan. 25 2006
By Cmac-breed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One of the most powerful men in Hollywood says that much of all he needed to learn he learned at camp. He cites examples and weaves them with the present day experiences of two Orange County boys. Seldom has changed within the boundaries of Keewaydin over the last 80 years.

I liked the way that the two men blended their voice...it helps to make one not focus so much on who said what and stay with the story. Having attened a summer camp (Camp Beaverbrook in California) from 1977-1985 (until it's closing) I, too, can say that much of who I am today is derived from those experiences which give a child a parallel universe to school/home.

His retellings of the pivotal experiences that made him "part of the club" of adults and his realization that at 18 he was IN CHARGE of other people's kids just emphazises how "help the other fellow" is so ingrained in everything that this camp does.

Mr Eisner/Mr McPhee were "helped" into that sometimes horrifying revelation by experienced staffers who I KNOW kept an eye out all summer for transitional teens such as these.

I loved the fact that so many folks return each summer to be "staffmen"; a vision I had for myself regarding "my" summer camp. I was happy to see that people did indeed get that chance because my noncamp friends just didn't "get it" when I would say that had my camp remained open, my vacation would have been spent there.

Thank you, Mr Eisner and Mr McPhee for adding some oomph and credibility behind a general summer camp that focuses more on individual growth in a team environment than on competitive "brackets and ladders" ranking children far too early in their lives.

Individual accomplishment for the good of the team so that everyone can "win". (please do NOT confuse this comment with the silly "self-esteem" movement)

America's shareholders would be far better served by this same approach in Corporate America.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Camp Camp March 31 2007
By James A. Brennan Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I went to camp too. Camp Hawthorne in Raymond, Maine. This book is the best and a worthwhile read for any parent with a kid at camp or any parent considering sending their kid to camp. It's likely even better for kids like me who went to camp because no matter what experience Eisner describes, the same memories come rushing back in all their fun and splendor. One of my camp friends always used to say he was going to write a book about camp called "Camp Camp." (A generic book he had in mind.) He always said no one would believe what great fun and experiences we had. He never wrote the book but I am extremely happy that Michael Eisner has. It is no samll wonder he has been so successful (say what you might about his last few difficult years - those years were difficult for anyone in business.) He actually came through them in good shape and there's a reason he did. Nothing is as tough as that first canoe trip that you lead. If you forget any one of a number of items it can turn three days into ten. Kudos to Eisner for writing about camp in all its splendor, honoring those who gave kids like us the time of our lives, and carrying on the tradition through generosity usually reserved for only the finest of America's institutions. He's got his heart and him money in the right place!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, for campers or parents of campers Aug. 5 2005
By Chipcinnati - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed the book. As a former camper myself (at another summer camp far away), I enjoyed the memories of my own that came back while reading Eisner's memories.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just like Beaverbrook Sept. 26 2007
By Kort E. Van Bronkhorst - Published on Amazon.com
Eisner's book is a wonderful reflection of his experiences over many summers at a prominent northeastern "sleepaway camp." Being a northern Californian, I was not exposed to this particular genre of camp experience, but my brothers and I were fortunate to attend a wonderfully similar enclave three hours north of us called Camp Beaverbrook, which featured most of the same experiences (save for the wonderful natural lakes) that Mr. Eisner recounts. Our camp directors, "Amee and Niha" (Bob and Marion Brown from Orinda, California) built the place by hand and created a wonderful place for young people ("Beaverbods," we called them) to grow up and learn to live with others. Mrs. Brown even wrote her own reflective book called "Past Tents," which is unfortunately out of print. If you enjoyed Mr. Eisner's book, you should also see the movie "Indian Summer," which never ceases to bring a tear to my eyes.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Oct. 2 2007
By Amanda B. Reckonwithe - Published on Amazon.com
Eisner's descriptions of his experiences as a camper really hit home for me, I would recommend this book heartily. Coincidentally I also was a Beaverbod (attended Camp Beaverbrook) run by Amee and Niha and Mr Mahnke's Brother. The experience described in Eisner's book is much more "East Coast" than my own experience but still rings true if you ever went to summer camp. His descriptions of the aging Camp Director and the emotions he evokes are great. Good read!

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