News / USA

American Youth Prep for Summer Camp

US retreats for young people are more specialized than ever

If ever there was a summer-camp staple, it’s horseback riding.
If ever there was a summer-camp staple, it’s horseback riding.

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Ted Landphair

Summertime is almost upon us in America, and even though millions of children will be home from school, they won’t necessarily be under their parents’ feet the whole time. A lot of them will be off to summer camp for a week or two or more.

At rustic locales with catchy names like "Camp Hiawatha," summer camp has traditionally meant fresh air and mountain streams, nature walks and horseback rides, arts and crafts; roasted marshmallows, ghost stories and songs around a campfire.

Little ditties such as "There was a farmer had a dog, and Bingo was his name-oh.[clap-clap]-N-G-O. [clap-clap]-N-G-O. . . ."

Not every summer camp convenes in the woods. Here, young actors frolic at a film-school camp in the heart of a big city: Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.
Not every summer camp convenes in the woods. Here, young actors frolic at a film-school camp in the heart of a big city: Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.
Sometimes there’d be a Camp Gitchi-gumi for boys on one side of a river and a Camp Sunshine for girls on the other - and it was the counselors’ daily challenge to keep it that way.

Then camps began to specialize, offering intense training in chess or Hebrew or hockey. You could find survivalist camps, fat kids’ camps, violinists’ camps, camps for kids with diabetes - even camps for boy scouts who speak Ukrainian.

Nowadays, summer camp is even MORE specialized. You don’t just go to soccer camp. You go to camp for goalkeepers. Not just to computer camp but to camp for Internet web designers. Not just to culinary camp but to camp for mushroom-lovers. There are American Indian camps and Asian Indian camps, test preparation camps, camps in caves, camps where you hunt bugs, and camps based on the fictional boy wizard Harry Potter.

There’s even something called "cyber camp," though we’re not sure you actually GO there.

You name it: there’s probably a summer camp for it. But it may take a while to find a simple "camp camp" where you can sing "[clap-clap-clap]-G-O and Bingo was his name-oh."

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