5.0 out of 5 starsThis book was a tremendous learning experience for me.
January 17, 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
I never expected there to be so much history, culture, and politics related to summer camps. "It is perhaps even more important to recognize the ways in which summer camps-all of them-served as incubators of the middle class, instilling middle-class values (faith in the existence of a meritocracy and a commitment to fair play)..." p. xxxiv.
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.
5.0 out of 5 starsFascinating. It's just a shame it stops at 1960.
August 11, 2009 - 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.
CONTENTS: 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.
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.