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Camp Camp: Where Fantasy Island Meets Lord of the Flies Hardcover – May 20, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his foreword, filmmaker Ivan Reitman writes, "Between the ages of seven and fifteen, going to summer camp was the most important influence in my life"; indeed, he launched his film career in 1979 with Meatballs, a movie inspired by his experiences at Camp White Pine in Haliburton, Ontario. In their latest, New York-based authors Bennett and Shell (co-creators of the similarly-themed Bar Mitzvah Disco) elicit more fond memories, photos, letters home and art projects from a long list of young writers, artists and entertainment industry pros, including Paul Feig, A.J. Jacobs, Rachel Sklar and David Wain. In a fitting scrap-book style, Bennett and Shell compile these communal camp memories, drawn from original interviews, and also include broader essays on chapter topics like "Camp Gastronomy," "Socials," "Camp Love" and "Visiting Day." Though most of the camps included here are in New York and Massachusetts, the subject matter of this colorful tribute-from Arrival Day to Last Night-will connect with anyone who looks back fondly on their camp experience (those who disliked camp, or never went, would probably do better renting Meatballs).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“If your parents shipped you off in a yellow bus for six weeks of mystery meat and color wars, you’ll love the new Camp Camp.”
Rolling Stone

Camp Camp is tapping into a larger yearning to revisit those days of cabin fever.”

“Remember camp? Remember the bunk beds, the counselors, the bugs? If not, Camp Camp, with its 300 photos, will certainly refresh your memory.”
USA Today

“From two Bar Mitzvah Disco authors comes this collection of vintage summer-camp stories and photos that offer a nostalgic trip down wedgie lane.”
Entertainment Weekly

“This is the real stuff, going deeper than any VH1 '80s nostalgia trip or a squandered Saturday afternoon watching a cable rerun of ‘Meatballs,’”
Washington Post

“a hilarious, touching study of awkward adolescence.”
LA Times

"Camp Camp serves as a kind of summer yearbook, collecting fond and not-so-fond memories of bunkmates, first kisses, tie-dye T-shirts and bug juice.”
New York Daily News

“Some experiences define a generation - the Greatest Generation endured World War II; the assassination of JFK and Woodstock are milestones for baby boomers. Generation X’s seminal event? Summer camp.”
Boston Herald

“There are two kinds of people: Those who adored summer camp and those who were completely, inconsolably miserable. Whichever type you were, Camp Camp will stir up powerful memories… Bunkhouse pranks, counselor worship, god-awful talent shows, summer crushes - they're all here, both hilarious and wince-worthy.”

Camp Camp… compiles campers' memories from the 1980s and early '90s -- and hilarious photos documenting the era's most cringe-inducing fashions and big hair.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Bennett and Shell celebrate coming-of-age in the rarefied world of short sheeting and atomic wedgies, which parents paid for in exchange for a couple of weeks of summertime quiet. Lots of pictures and vignettes that might make you laugh until you– well, like someone put your hand in warm water.”
Raleigh News and Observer


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; 1 edition (May 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307382621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382627
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The kid freaked out, ran off the bus. Much screaming from other kids --- it was time to leave. The kid's parents told their daughter they'd follow the bus --- a four-hour drive --- and if, at the destination, she still wanted to come home, they'd be right there for her. She agreed. Returned to the bus. It pulled out. The parents drove straight home.

The destination: sleepaway camp.

Which is described by the authors of this 300-page picture-and-text romp as "the definitive formative experience for our generation."

Ah....summer camp in the Reagan-blissed 1980s. If you were there, it's just far enough away that nostalgia can creep in. But then, I'm told, camps are eternal, each with a self-renewing culture that binds campers across generations.

"Camp was culture that had a place for everyone in it -- the beautiful and the athletic shone, but if you had neat handwriting, or were the king of the archery range, or were a masterful pianist, you could find your niche," says co-author Roger Bennett. "And camp is a place where everyone gets a second chance to be the kind of kid they always wanted to be. Everyone gets a fresh start to define themselves, free of the shackles of their hometown reputations. If you longed to be a raconteur, a ladies' man, a dodgeball expert, you could reinvent yourself with confidence."

Sounds appealing. But back up the train. Did the man say culture?

--- In their cabin, some girls found "somebody's ginormous box of winged maxi pads." On one, they wrote in red Sharpie, "Sara, this is your period speaking to you." They placed that maxipad --- "crotch-up" --- in a pair of Sara's undies in her cubby.

--- You know about "trucking"?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've had the life lesson of being a camp counselor the year we landed on the moon. I was 18 and frankly didn't know what I was doing there. Soon it became a whole different world. The boys stayed with us for at least a week at a time in an isolated canyon north of Los Angeles. It wasn't just 'Lord of the Flies', but a bizarre comedy of naivete, wonder, longing, petty fights, and a situation where the loonies were definitely running the asylum.

Looking through this book everything that happened so long ago popped back into my head as if it were recent memory.

We had our cook, who smoked while stirring the huge pots of something. He was rumored to be a cop killer. His assistant looked like a Hells Angel, but much dirtier. They retained their jobs despite the random cases of food poisoning. Perhaps it was our abject fear of them.

The mid-summer septic tank "explosion". It forced the closure of 2 cabins and the double bunking of kids. Madness. The 'creek' flowed for the rest of the Summer. It may have been Mother Earth recoiling from our behavior.

The midnight swims after the campers were sound asleep, the stunning nights under the stars, being outdoors for 3 months. No TV, no iPods, no Walkmans, just the rare radio. Ahh.

Rumors kept us busier than middle-school girls. The whispers of trysts and the obvious romances, the commando raids into the kitchen to steal cigarettes, the cook and his mate teaching me the fine art of Bourbon drinking. That did wonders for my street cred. And, of course, the pranks pulled not on the campers but on each other.

Then came our education on the variety of backgrounds, characters, and families of our boys.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unlike the other reviewer, I spent 8 glorious years at Camp Akiba in the picturesque Poconos, and my only complaint about this book is that our camp isn't featured much. Despite this, I devoured every page of this wonderful trip down memory lane... from the big hair and big socks to the mix tapes to the rituals of Color War, Visiting Day, and floating our farewell candles on the lake. Every moment of the drama, the hysterical laughter, and the idea of "camping" in the materialistic 80's is captured and given the treatment it deserves. The strong sense of nostalgia that I think most campers have spills out on each page-- sometimes even in rainbow bubble letters-- and it is clear that this book was a labor of love. If you went to camp in the 80's, it is like spending a few hours with an old friend ...until that big bus pulls out of the parking lot and takes you back to reality. HIGHLY recommended!!
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Format: Hardcover
Having just sent my oldest child off to her first year of sleepaway camp, it was very tempting to stow away on the bus and relive my camp experiences of the 1970s. But with this book, I don't have to, and it's a whole lot cheaper than actually going to sleepaway camp. While I must admit that I did contribute a few photos and a couple of anecdotes, I had no idea of the scope of this book until I actually read it--it's as funny as successfully short-sheeting a counselor's bed (and then getting the kid in the bunk that everyone hates blamed for it). There's a depth of depravity here that even I'd never expected--it's so brilliantly outrageous that I practically peed in my pants I was laughing so hard. My wife thought I'd completely lost my marbles--but she never had the camp experience. This book was lovingly compiled by a couple of truly demented (in a good way) folks, and they have captured the spirit of summer camp in a way that I thought only I remembered. Obviously, there are many others out there--and they should all read this book. If not, there's a purple nurple out there with your name on it...
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