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Summer camp has the capacity to inspire heated debate among those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have attended. Where some campers made friends for life, others never adapted to camp’s privations, and Timothy Noah kicks off Slate’s camp issue with a handy guide to the five types of camper—and to what your take on camp suggests about your life as an adult. If you didn’t like your summer on Lake Weecheewachee, Noah writes, you might be a good candidate for a career in journalism.
Children in this country have been shipped off to sleep-away camp since the late 1800s, and in a slide show excerpted from her forthcoming book, Abigail A. Van Slyck explores the rustic origins of the American overnight camp. Since these early days, the face of camp has changed: Meghan O’Rourke explains that she spent more time in a classroom than on a lakefront during her summers at “nerd camp.” And Seth Stevenson describes the near-magical powers that camp counselors have over their impressionable charges.
Elsewhere in the issue, Liesl Schillinger notes that it was the Girl Scouts who invented the quintessential camp (or at least campfire) food—s’mores—and then reveals for the first time her lifelong distaste for the gooey treat. And in a whirlwind survey of the best, and the worst, movies about summer camp, Daniel Engber argues that it’s been all downhill since Little Darlings. Settle in with a s’more or two and enjoy the issue.
“You Are How You Camped: What your enjoyment of sleepaway camp, or lack of same, says about your character,” by Timothy Noah. Posted July 20, 2006.
“My Summers at Nerd Camp: Geology, study hall, and ‘mandatory fun,’ ” by Meghan O’Rourke. Posted July 20, 2006.
“ A Manufactured Wilderness: The history of the American summer camp,” by Abigail A. Van Slyck. Posted July 20, 2006.
“I Can’t Take It Any S’more!: America’s most abominable dessert,” by Liesl Schillinger. Posted July 20, 2006.
“Minor Gods: Why camp is for the counselors,” by Seth Stevenson. Posted July 20, 2006.
“Bunks on Film: The heady adolescence of summer camp cinema,” by Daniel Engber. Posted July 20, 2006.