What Makes a Song a ‘Camp Song’?

Most Aren’t Composed at Camp. Nor Are They About Camp. But They Unite Kids Across North America on Trails, in Mess Halls, and Around Bonfires

At a children’s summer sleepaway camp in upstate New York in the mid-1920s, two young staffers, Artie and Larry, write a song for the annual camp play. It begins:

I love to lie awake in bed

Right after taps I pull the flaps above my head

And watch the stars upon my pillow

Oh, what a light the moonbeams shed.

Some years later, Artie—composer Arthur Schwartz—is writing numbers for a Broadway revue and gets stuck for a melody. He remembers his camp song, ditches the lyrics (written …

My ‘Field of Dreams’ Above Carpinteria | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

My ‘Field of Dreams’ Above Carpinteria

At Santa Barbara County’s Ken McMullen Baseball Camp, a True Team Player Taught Us How to Teach Others

Did you have strange dreams during this unsettling, crazy California summer? Me too.

Mine compressed time and space. In dreamland, I toggled between the anxious claustrophobia of summer 2020 and memories …

‘Sharp and Subversive’ Scenes of Integrated 1940s Summer Camps  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

‘Sharp and Subversive’ Scenes of Integrated 1940s Summer Camps 

Gordon Parks’s Photos of Black and White Kids at Play Resisted Segregation in Nature and Beyond by Presenting a Vision of America as He Hoped It Could Be

One day in 1923, three white boys pushed 11-year-old Gordon Parks into the Marmaton River in rural Kansas. Parks couldn’t swim and he tumbled under the surface, the current pushing …

Where’s the Laid-Back Fun in Kids’ Summer Vacations?

Pricey Camps and Erratic School Calendars Are Spoiling Our Seasonal Break

My grade school summer vacations seemed to last forever, pairing well with the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer double album I wore out on the record changer.

During those hot and humid …

Camp Conformity

I Was Sent to Bond With My Fellow Jews. I Failed.

Last month, for the first time since I was 15, I returned to summer camp. Some friends were getting married and had rented out a YMCA in upstate New York …