In Camping Alone in the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus longs for the days when camp meant groups named after furry animals, silly songs and lanyards.
The modern camp is specialized and short-term; the modern camper spends a week at tennis camp and a week at computer camp, a week at baseball camp and a week at art camp. Think of it as Attention Deficit Disorder Goes to Camp.
I know children this summer who are going to horseback-riding camp, rafting camp, caving camp, science camp and something called “rock star day jam camp” — and that’s just two kids (not mine!) for part of the summer. A tae kwon do camp may be added to the mix.
Whatever happened to camp camp?
I made lanyards at various day camps: At Merry Oaks, we were not allowed to name our group “the Sharks.” Then I went off to a wonderful sleepover camp for girls, Brown Ledge Camp on Lake Champlain in Winooski Vermont. It did allow a lot of individual choice under the “freedom plan,” but we had plenty of silly songs. I valued the chance to get away from my family and experiment with a new persona, even if it did turn out to be very much like my home and school persona. The camp is now a nonprofit run by a former bunkie of mine.