Although summer camps profoundly impact children, they have received little attention from scholars. The well-known Farm & Wilderness (F&W) camps, founded in 1939 by Ken and Susan Webb, resembled most other private camps of the same period in many ways, but F&W also had some distinctive features. Campers and staff took pride in the special ruggedness of the surrounding environment, and delighted in the exceptional rigor of the camping trips and the work projects. Importantly, the Farm & Wilderness camps were some of the first private camps to become racially integrated.The Farm & Wilderness Summer Camps: Progressive Ideals in the Twentieth Century traces these camps, both unique and emblematic of American youth culture of the twentieth century, from their establishment in the late 1930s to the end of the twentieth century. Emily K. Abel and Margaret K. Nelson explore how ideals considered progressive in the 1940s and 1950s had to be reconfigured by the camps to respond to shifts in culture and society as well as to new understandings of race and ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexual identity. To illustrate this change, the authors draw on over forty interviews with former campers, archival materials, and their own memories. This book tells a story of progressive ideals, crises of leadership, childhood challenges, and social adaptation in the quintessential American summer camp.
Chronology List of Abbreviations Introduction 1 The Founders 2 Ruggedness 3 “Camping from the Neck Up” 4 Gender and Sexual Orientation 5 Sexual Abuse 6 Race 7 Social Class 8 Indian Lore Conclusion Acknowledgments Notes Index Index
Emily K. Abel is Professor Emerita at the UCLA-Fielding School of Public Health. She is the author of many books, including Hearts of Wisdom: American Women Caring for Kin, 1850-1940, The Inevitable Hour: A History of Dying Patients in America, and Elder Care in Crisis: How the Social Safety Net Fails Families. Her book Tuberculosis and the Politics of Exclusion won the 2008 Viseltear Award for outstanding book in the history of public health from the Medical Care Section, American Public Health Association.
Margaret K. Nelson is A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Sociology Emerita at Middlebury College. Most recently she is the author of Like Family: Narratives of Fictive Kinship and co-author, with Emily K. Abel, of Limited Choices: Mable Jones, A Black Children’s Nurse in a Northern White Household.
"Tamarack Farm, the Farm and Wilderness work camp, changed my life during my four summers. Counsellors and campers opened my eyes to a bigger world and encouraged me to help make it a better world. This book is a labor of love that describes why so many of us feel that way about FW.
~John Wilhelm, Tamarack Farm 1960–63, retired union president
"In this engaging consideration of the Farm and Wilderness camps, the authors use the scholarly tools of their respective disciplines to produce a case-study that is simultaneously deeply respectful and critically analytical. Their willingness to address a range of issues—among them, racial inequality, gender politics, sexual abuse, and the appropriation of Native American culture—make this a must-read, not just for their fellow FW alums, but for anyone committed to seeing summer camps thrive in the 21st century."
~Abigail A. Van Slyck, author of A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890-1960