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A Manufactured Wilderness

A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890–1960

Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    A Manufactured Wilderness
    Book Description:

    Abigail A. Van Slyck trains an informed eye on the most visible and evocative aspect of summer camp life: its landscape and architecture. Far from a simple encounter with nature, Van Slyck argues that camps provided a man-made version of wilderness, shaped by middle-class anxieties about gender roles, class tensions, race relations, and modernity and its impact on children.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7471-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. INTRODUCTION Summer Camps and the Problem of Modern Childhood
    (pp. xix-xxxvii)

    THIS SUMMER MORE THAN TEN MILLION NORTH AMERICAN children will experience the simple pleasures of summer camp: the feel of pine needles underfoot, the smell of the campfire, the taste of s’mores. Many will attend day camps, but a significant number will enroll in residential camps, swelling the ranks of those who have spent some part of each summer living away from home in a rustic setting with other children their own age. Whether privately run, supported by a charitable foundation, affiliated with a religious enterprise, or sponsored by a youth organization (such as the YMCA or the Girl Scouts),...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Putting Campers in Their Place Camp Landscapes and Changing Ideas of Childhood
    (pp. 1-39)

    IN THE SUMMER OF 1931, ARCHITECT ARTHUR B. HEATON VISITED Camp Becket, a YMCA camp in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. In his pocket, he carried a letter of introduction from the general secretary of the Washington, D.C., YMCA, which explained that Heaton was visiting “some of our leading boys’ camps . . . gathering information that we trust will be helpful to us in our contemplated program of expansion” at Camp Letts, the district’s YMCA camp in Edgewater, Maryland. Heaton also had with him hotel stationery from Atlantic City, New Jersey—undoubtedly picked up en route—on which...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Fun and Games The Serious Work of Play
    (pp. 41-95)

    IN THE FALL OF 1926, THE GIRL SCOUTS CAMP COMMITTEE MET in the organization’s New York headquarters to discuss the previous summer’s site visits. One of the camps visited by Professor L. D. Cox elicited considerable discussion. Near Glens Falls, New York, the camp enjoyed the use of “a site of exceptional beauty on Lake George.” Two things, however, gave Cox pause. One was the camp’s location on a main road, a factor that had prompted him to advise the director against purchasing the site, despite its beauty. The other was the camp program, which included “baseball and other activities...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Housing the Healthy Camper Tents, Cabins, and Attitudes toward Health
    (pp. 97-123)

    IN THE SUMMER OF 1904, A GROUP OF ABOUT SEVENTY-FIVE boys and girls boarded a train in Chicago. Their destination—the suburbs Glencoe and Ravinia—was not geographically distant, but the experience that awaited them was intended to be far from their normal routine. These children were beginning a two-week stay at a Fresh Air camp sponsored by the Moody Sunday School, a branch of the evangelical church established on the north side of Chicago by Dwight L. Moody in 1859. Handpicked by the wife of the Sunday school superintendent, these “needy” children were to be taken from the fetid...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Feeding an Army Mealtime Rituals at Camp
    (pp. 125-145)

    IN 1919, THE BOYS AT CAMP RANACHQUA INTERRUPTED THEIR midday meal to turn their somewhat solemn faces toward the camera (Figure 4.1). Some of them had dark circles under their eyes, suggesting that they had not quite adjusted to sleeping on cots. Many wore the army drab favored by the Boy Scout leaders at this camp near Narrowsburg, New York. All of them sat on backless benches, facing rectangular tables covered in oil cloth and arranged in long rows under the broad roof of a rustic, open-sided dining pavilion. Once the photographer finished, they would return their attention to the...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Good and Dirty? Girls, Boys, and Camp Cleanliness
    (pp. 147-167)

    ONE SUMMER’S DAY IN ABOUT 1910, THREE BOYS GATHERED around a makeshift washstand that had been constructed from a biscuit crate and set up next to one of the tents that lined the parade ground at Camp Becket (Figure 5.1). One barefoot camper interrupted the process of brushing his teeth to smile at the camera. Another was about to wash his face (and perhaps upper body) in a small washbasin, having removed the sleeveless jersey that had left him with distinctive tan lines. His exposed garters suggested that he expected to don long trousers when he had completed his ablutions;...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Living like Savages Tipis, Council Rings, and Playing Indian
    (pp. 169-213)

    IN 1908, SEVERAL BOYS GATHERED AROUND A CAMPFIRE ON a cool summer evening (Figure 6.1). Some sat on benches arranged in a large circle around the fire, while others circumambulated the flames, bent low, stepping to the rhythm of a skin drum played by a mustachioed man in a fringed tunic. One of the dancing boys also wore a fringed shirt, as well as a full feather headdress. Similarly dressed, one of the seated boys contemplated the scene from a roughly carved rock throne. A totem pole of sorts was situated behind the throne, not far from the frame for...

  12. EPILOGUE Summer Camps, Modern Architecture, and Modern Life
    (pp. 215-226)

    IN 1955, THE PROFESSIONAL JOURNALARCHITECTURAL FORUMpublished a glowing article about Camp Bliss, a new summer camp for girls in Fishkill, New York, owned and operated by the Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund. The text highlighted the decentralized layout provided by “Veteran Camp Planner” Julian Harris Salomon, while the images and their extensive captions celebrated the architectural designs of Edward Larrabee Barnes, a Harvard-trained architect who, at age forty, was beginning to make a name for himself as a designer of modern houses. According to the article’s anonymous author, the camp’s “program of intimate groups . . . is...

  13. APPENDIX ACA Accredited Residential Camps Established before 1960
    (pp. 227-252)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 253-269)
    (pp. 270-280)
    (pp. 281-282)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 283-296)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 297-297)