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A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890-1960 [Hardcover]

Abigail A. Van Slyck

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Book Description

Oct. 25 2006 Architecture, Landscape and Amer Culture
Since they were first established in the 1880s, children’s summer camps have touched the lives of millions of people. Although the camping experience has a special place in the popular imagination, few scholars have given serious thought to this peculiarly American phenomenon. Why were summer camps created? What concerns and ideals motivated their founders? Whom did they serve? How did they change over time? What factors influenced their design? To answer these and many other questions, Abigail A. Van Slyck trains an informed eye on the most visible and evocative aspect of camp life: its landscape and architecture. She argues that summer camps delivered much more than a simple encounter with the natural world. Instead, she suggests, camps provided a man-made version of wilderness, shaped by middle-class anxieties about gender roles, class tensions, race relations, and modernity and its impact on the lives of children. Following a fascinating history of summer camps and a wide-ranging overview of the factors that led to their creation, Van Slyck examines the intersections of the natural landscape with human-built forms and social activities. In particular, she addresses changing attitudes toward such subjects as children’s health, sanitation, play, relationships between the sexes, Native American culture, and evolving ideas about childhood. Generously illustrated with period photographs, maps, plans, and promotional images of camps throughout North America, A Manufactured Wilderness is the first book to offer a thorough consideration of the summer camp environment.

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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Camping is More than a Tent Jan. 15 2007
By Kay Lindekugel - Published on Amazon.com
We think, A Manufactured Wilderness should be required reading for any person who is considering spending their life in the field of camping. Selected parts would also be helpful reading for agency camp boards to help them see their camp in a broader context. This book is camp history, illustrated with pictures and landscapes, that will remind readers of the beginnings and changes in camping prior to 1960. We commend this book. It should be on the library shelves of every school that teaches camp courses. The 7000 plus camps in the US plus those in other countries should have access to this marvelous and rich history that is written across all camping boundaries as a reminder of a rich heritage. The camping experience may be more valuable now in its many forms than it has ever been. This is a treasure of a book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. It's just a shame it stops at 1960. Aug. 11 2009
By tantos libros... - Published on Amazon.com
This is a book about the history of summer camps in the United States, with an emphasis on architecture and camp planning, that would be enjoyed by anyone who has been a summer camper or staffer and should be required reading for camp board members & camping professionals.

Among other things, the book describes how in the early days leaders would just take kids out into a field on someone's farm and they would set up camp; as time went on structures were made more and more permanent. Also, huge, centralized camps gave way to smaller community groups scattered within the larger camp, a change in camping philosophy that was reflected in camp layouts.

The chapter on Native Americans and "Playing Indian" is especially excellent.

Introduction: Summer camps and the problem of modern childhood -- Putting campers in their place : camp landscapes and changing ideas of childhood -- Fun and games : the serious work of play -- Housing the healthy camper : tents, cabins, and attitudes toward health -- Feeding an army : mealtime rituals at camp -- Good and dirty? : girls, boys, and camp cleanliness -- Living like savages : tipis, council rings, and playing Indian -- Epilogue: Summer camps, modern architecture, and modern life.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A definite OK but no more Dec 18 2012
By Harry F. Drabik - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having worked a number of summer camps I came to this book perhaps expecting or knowing too much. It's not a bad effort, but it seems to me it is very general, almost lazily so, in not pursuing a wider scope of camps and approaches to them. There are a few interesting topics, but overall I was disappointed with the content. The organization wasn't the best, either. I'd give it a C minus.
2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not a coffee table book May 4 2008
By Jennifer Mccormac - Published on Amazon.com
it is an interesting topic, but i was purchasing it for photo content and was very disappointed. this book is not the coffee table book full of beautiful, large images of summer camp days that i was hoping for. instead it looks and reads like a college text.

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