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Camp Camp book review

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2008-06-25

Camp Camp

Camp Camp

The American summer camp is a legendary experience most US teens and children are put through.

From two of the authors of the seminal kitsch classic Barmitzvah Disco, which told the story of coming of age for Jewish kids and a few non-Jewish, now comes Camp Camp, a look at the people who attended summer camps mainly in the 1980s and 1990s and their true life experiences of them.

While not a Jew-ish book, after all, not all summer camps were Hebrew flavoured, Camp Camp provides stories from many Jews including a tale from super producer Mark Ronson and is a sterling achievement from Roger Bennett and co-author Jules Shell.

But this is not a book about the famous and how they kissed for the first time or even cross dressed, it is a book about ordinary people and their stories of how they kissed for the first time and cross dressed.

The book features a fabulous selection of photos as well as notes and letters.  From Katie Schmacher’s plea to her mother on June 23 1987: “Please pick me up from camp tomorrow. I’m so homesick. Bye. Please pick me up!”  to Rebecca Shapiro’s mix tape produced for Martyn Jones, an English camp counselor she had the hots for and the story about it.

Mark Ronson’s tale recalls his experience of falling out of his bunk bed at Camp Amherst and getting sent to hospital.

Even the authors tell of their own experiences and Liverpool-born New York resident Roger Bennett reveals what it takes to be a camp leader.

Camp Camp is a delight to read and a coffee table book that will certainly spend more time off the coffee table than on it.

It delivers a witty account of a totally unique American experience and through the stories and photos, is something that has universal appeal.

After all, who couldn’t be amused by this extract from a letter by David Katznelson in August 1980 to his parents and sums up Jewish dysfunctional sporting prowess most eloquently:  “Dear Dad and Mom, How are you? I’m fine. Yesterday we had the Olympics. I didn’t win anything.”

That alone would make the book worth buying, but add in hundreds more anecdotes and of course the photographs and this is an essential book to buy.

Camp Camp is published by Crown.

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