Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Reader Question: Books on Camp Culture?


Dear Community,

Are there any books you can recommend that revolve around the subject of camp/American camp culture? With summer evolving and nowhere really to go, I’d love a read set on or around that stage.



  1. The ultimate book on the subject:

  2. Fiction- Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons

  3. If you're interested in how it was done back then, Horace Kephart's Camping and Woodcraft is a classic how-to book. There's an copy here:

    Keep in mind that this is really two volumes combined into one, with the original separate pagination (and indexing) preserved.

    More on Kephart: He had decided views regarding living outdoors in nature.

    1. Thanks for this link. An excellent read. PBH

  4. In non-fiction, I suggest Clifford Putney's Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880-1920. The book addresses the origin and development of many New England summer camps and boarding schools.

  5. I second the recommendation for Horace Kephart. His book Camping and Woodcraft is about as thorough as anything I've ever read on the subject and only slightly dated. There were several other interesting books, manuals, really, from that period. George Washington Sears' book Woodcraft is relatively thin but it's also still in print, supposedly.

    One member of my wife's extended family operated a summer camp for girls for many years until his death about fifteen years ago. In addition to running a girls' summer camp, he was also business manager for Episcopal High School, a boys' boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia. His son now runs the camp. In true summer camp tradition, there is a boys' summer camp nearby. Both are about a hundred years old.

    I understand there have been trends over the years in summer camps. It was customary for a camp stay to be about a month but shorter terms have been added as well as family camp and mother-daughter camp. Last year was a disaster for summer camps but things look to be returning to normal this summer. The first term begins in two weeks.

  6. Summer at Willow Lake
    by Susan Wiggs
    Miniseries: The Lakeshore Chronicles (Book #0)
    she did several in this series, this one book was far more than I thought it would be....

  7. This reminds me of years ago the Lamb Cam link from here...and all the joy it brought, camp and other wise.

  8. For some Thousand Island cottage lore try Of Time and an Island by John Keats and The Island by Robert Russell. The letters of Frederic Remington detailing his life on Ingleneuk, one of the Cedar Islands, are wonderful as well. I was just at our cottage there and can assure you that camp life is alive and well at The River. And there's no WiFi. Or hot water. :)

  9. FWIW, the movie "Indian Summer" about summer camp alumni/ae returning for a reunion is delightful. Alan Arkin is the retiring camp owner who hopes to pass it on to his favorite campers from bygone years.